Tell me if you have heard this one before—Nick Saban is Darth Vader…only meaner. Nick Saban makes people cry. The Alabama football coach doesn’t smile; The Alabama football coach doesn’t engage in BS sessions; The Alabama football coach doesn’t have a soul.
And so the narrative goes. Perpetrated by some in the local and regional media, this view of Nick Saban lingers. Saban’s distant personality combined with his icy reaction to being doused with Gatorade in the closing minutes of the 2009 national championship game against Texas has helped support the narrative.
The latest report of Saban’s lack of personality comes from a Florida website. According to 247’s Gatorbait, Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis called Nick Saban “the devil himself” and said, “(Muschamp’s) like the other guy, only he’s got a personality…He’ll smile at you. He’ll talk to you.”
Bully for Will Muschamp and his staff. You just look at Muschamp and can see the warm heart. He shows it so well on the sideline right between all the F words and other swearing.
What this type of presentation does is warp our perception of successful coaches. Will Muschamp is very similar to Nick Saban—they both hold people accountable. For that reason, many people will consider these men to be, in the vernacular, dicks. Nobody wants a boss to yell at him or fuss at him when he fails to do his job. Nobody wants a boss to make sure he does his work. This is a big reason so many coaches get tired of working for the top coaches in the game. It is a big reason that Saban prefers younger, hungrier assistants instead of big, fat, lazy, entitled coaches entering the middle-to-end of their respective careers. That isn’t to say all older coaches are lazy—for proof see Joe Pendry while at Alabama, etc.
However, there is more to this spin regarding Saban. The teams voicing it the loudest tend to be teams most threatened by Alabama.
Who can forget Auburn’s credo during the Gene Chizik regime. Every Auburn coach and fan was screaming, “It is FUN to play at Auburn.”
Fun was code for “No rules.” It was intended as a recruiting philosophy. It yielded bitter results. The Auburn program is a joke today and a punch line regarding NCAA compliance. The stench around the Auburn program is so bad, the Tigers were forced to hire a former assistant coach on Chizik’s staff instead of a marquee name. This former assistant coach was so committed to strict discipline he took a former Auburn running back at Arkansas State who was involved in a whole mess of trouble at Auburn. Sure, the star RB was kicked off the team, but not before embarrassing his new program during the offseason by having a “handgun and a substance believed to be marijuana in the car,” according to reports.
Unlike Auburn, Florida has a coach in control of the program. Simply put, Muschamp will not let the inmates run the asylum.
However, it is interesting when a coach trots out the old Nick Saban is a mean guy theme. Sure it gets cheap laughs, but sometimes is reveals deeper issues within a program.