As the 2013 college football season approaches, the dynamic has never been clearer: there is Nick Saban and the Alabama football program and then there is everybody else.
In part because of that success and likewise because of the singularly focused mentality that fuels it, the head coach of the Crimson Tide is among the most hated figures in sports. Some believe he cheats. Some find his personality abrasive. Some just do not like him because they are sick of him winning.
To take a look at the most successful head coach of his generation, Warren St. John, who authored Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer about Alabama football, wrote an in-depth profile for GQ that has an interesting beginning: “I’ve been in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, all of twenty minutes when I hear my first Nick Saban-is-a-maniac story.”
The story, as St. John tells it, involves a conversation with Saban’s golfing buddy who congratulated the head coach on the national championship victory over LSU in January of 2012. The coaches’ response was not what he expected. “That damn game cost me a week of recruiting,” Saban replied.
That unrelenting mentality is hard to replicate and the source of why Alabama is racking up titles on the field and fictitious titles in the recruiting world.
“The thing that amazes me about him is that he doesn’t let up,” saysretired Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. “People start winning, theyslack off. But he just keeps jumping on ‘complacency, complacency,complacency.’ Most coaches don’t think like that.”
Yet beyond the stories of a driven coach and the more personal look at Nick Saban is an ongoing theme touched on in the story that has been a hot topic this offseason: people do not like the Alabama coach, and he does not really understand why.
Moreover, the coach was called the “devil” multiple times this offseason by coaches who know him and are familiar with how he operates.
“It used to upset me,” he told St. John. “I would come and say to my wife, ‘I’mnot like that at all. Why do these guys say I’m that way?’ And she wouldsay, ‘You ever watch yourself in a press conference?’ You can blame theother guy for saying it, or you can look at yourself and say, ‘I musthave contributed to this.'”