It is not the staff, but the leader

An army of rabbits led by a lion
is superior to an army of lions led by a rabbit.—Napoleon

It is one my favorite quotes because it is true, and nowhere is that clearer than in the leadership style of Nick Saban. Saban is difficult to work for because he holds his staff accountable. That isn’t always palatable for the gigantic egos known as football coaches. Has anyone met a football coach not convinced his way was the best way? When fans on talk radio ask why top coaches like Kevin Steele or Lance Thompson might look for other opportunities, you don’t have to look beyond the stress of being held accountable. If workers in the cubicle down the hall don’t like someone looking over their shoulder, does anyone think a respected coach would?

It gets old. Is that what forced Steele and Thompson out or was it the lure of more money? I’d say working for Saban would take its toll.

But that isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t push people then you aren’t doing your job. Anyone worth working for is going to push subordinates. Everyone loved working for Tommy Tuberville; however, Tuberville ended up being fired due to poor management.

Regardless of what chattering talk radio hosts say, Alabama fans aren’t worried about the loss of Thompson or Steele. Thompson is no doubt a larger loss due to his heavy involvement in recruiting this year (Steele’s involvement this year seemed substantially less than the 2008 class.) Long term the loss of Steele is probably the biggest loss. However, you can’t fully judge the extent of the loss until the posts are filled. Does anyone think the loss of Major Applewhite was bad after the improved offense in 2008?

But the loss isn’t enormous because Nick Saban has lost staff members before, and he’ll no doubt lose staff members again in the future. Why should it concern Crimson Tide fans? This happens in football. It might help create a controversy and give hope to Tennessee and Auburn fans, but in the end, assistant coaches aren’t determinative.

Does anyone think Kyle Whittingham staying at Utah kept Urban Meyer from being successful at Florida? No. Does anyone think Dan Mullen heading to Mississippi State will keep Florida from making a strong run at the national title in 2009?

Does anyone think Lance Thompson can make up for Lane Kiffin’s inexperience? Does anyone think Thompson can somehow compensate for Ed Orgeron’s incompetence?

it is clear that Tennessee and Auburn are responding to their respective fears of Nick Saban. The belief is Saban is only a good coach because he is a good recruiter. That is part of the reason Saban succeeds. But Orgeron was a good recruiter and he failed at Ole Miss. Recruiting is part of the equation, but not the only part. You can’t forget leadership.

Good leadership is holding people accountable and pushing them to perform beyond their own expectations. Doing those things won’t make you a popular boss.

There is nothing in the hires of Gene Chizik at Auburn or Lane Kiffin at Tennessee that should worry conference rivals. Chizik could turn things around at Auburn, but there is no evidence in his disastrous record to indicate he is a capable leader. Kiffin is an improvement over the pathetic decline of Phil Fulmer. However, there is nothing in Kiffin’s record or in his personality to indicate he can challenge the likes of Mark Richt, Urban Meyer or Nick Saban for dominance in the conference.

In terms of leadership, the comical Les Miles is superior to Kiffin and Chizik.

And Miles is better at recruiting than Chizik or Kiffin.

If Alabama were going to fear anyone it would be Miles.

However, ask any Alabama fan if they worry about Miles and they’ll laugh in your face.

So, why would Alabama fans be worried about inexperience (Kiffin) and incompetence (Chizik) at its two biggest rivals?