Under the Lights: Relationships & Academics

Sportsouth showcased the Alabama football program on “Under the Lights,” Wednesday evening. Many facets of the Tide program were highlighted, but there were two areas which deserve special mention: Nick Saban’s relationship with the players, and Saban’s focus on academics.

Nick Saban is really down to earth, and honest, according to his players. While it might be odd to an outsider, the players see Saban differently than the national media, rival fans or even Alabama fans. Saban was the guy standing up for his players when everyone else was taking shots at them.

Saban understands what players need—discipline and not punishment. Saban isn’t the bad guy who steps on people to achieve his goal. He cares about his players. It was just nice to see him portrayed as something other than the bad guy by the media.

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“The number one thing is that I love the players,” Saban said. “I care about the players. I think a lot of the things we do here is help the players be successful, and I think the players realize that.”

And some of them obviously do.

“He’s one of us. That sums it up. He’s one of us. He understands what we are going through, off the football field, in the classroom, from a personal standpoint, he can relate,” said Javier Arenas. “It makes it easy to communicate, and that is half the battle right there. I love his coaching style. I love him as a coach.”

You expect players to be loyal to a coach, but one element that must please UA fans is the emphasis on academics. Saban has made numerous statements about the importance of getting the job done on the field and in the classroom.

Both are one and important for student-athletes. The degree is important. The university experience is important.

It’s nice to see Saban selling the entire UA experience, not just the tradition of the football program.