Thinking back to Saban’s reaction

Now that the NCAA Committee on Infractions has met regarding the Alabama textbook scandal and the documents have been released, it sheds more light on Nick Saban’s response to the mess.

Back in October 2007, Saban was maligned for saying less about the players and more about the University’s problems in the textbook oversight. According to the AP, “Head coach Nick Saban said Monday the players used ‘poor judgment’ but that the university’s textbook distribution system for athletes also failed the players. ‘No one at the university wants me to say it, but it’s true,’ Saban said in a speech to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club.”

Saban’s response to this problem looks similar to the University’s response where the school admitted it failed to monitor the program—in other words the cop fell asleep on patrol.

In UA’s response to the NCAA the school brags about how its new policies should prevent any future problems. “The newly reformed textbook issuance process at the University will better deter wrongdoing and better prevent mistakes.”

Saban talks extensively about not worrying over things you cannot control. Instead Saban obsesses over what he can control, and Saban along with the University can control preventative measures—in other words tightening security.

Saban’s response to academic troubles at LSU should have provided guidance on how he would respond to this problem at Alabama. In his book Saban explained how the academic problems at LSU were fixed: “Now, the coaching staff had no idea this was going on—but when we found out, we made sure it wouldn’t happen again. The athletic department made changes in how academic work is monitored, and the university tightened its overview of student-athletes.”

What came out of that academic trouble? A new director of academic support, moving oversight of the academic-support program to the provost (and getting it out of the athletic department) and a recruiting tool—a new academic support center. If anything, Saban knows how to make lemonade when handed lemons.

Alabama’s textbook problem and LSU’s academic problem both showcased Saban’s management style. Alabama’s textbook issue brings up other issues beyond Saban’s reaction: how the University allegedly stonewalled release of the NCAA allegation, and the behavior of student-athletes.