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Inside Nick Saban and the Process

There are many myths that have grown up around Alabama football coach Nick Saban and the Process. He is a micromanager. He demands too much work of his assistants. He works harder than everyone else. While there are elements of truth in many of the things said about Nick Saban, he and his process are not the caricature as often portrayed. Providing some important details about Nick Saban and how he operates the Alabama program is Colorado State Coach Jim McElwain. McElwain answered some interesting questions from Colin Cowherd. You should listen to the audio, but here are a few gems that will no doubt help fans better understand The Process (and see why you should listen to Colin Cowherd in Birmingham over the local alternatives.)

Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is known for the Process. Coach Jim McElwain puts this into perspective.

Inside Nick Saban and the Process

Q from Colin Cowherd: Does Nick really work harder, or does he work smarter than the other guys?

A from Jim McElwain: “I think that is really the misconception. The one thing that he does because of the attention to detail and how he sets his calendar, there is no wasted time.

“What I loved in working for Nick Saban was that all he did was ask you to work hard, be detailed and be complete in what you do. The last time I checked, that is really what all of us should do in life.”

McElwain went on to describe the work as not a “grinding” or there “until 2:30 in the morning” type situations. But the efficiency of the work was stressed.

Colin Cowherd’s next question provided some important insights into Saban’s quality control over subordinates. Colin asked, “Was Nick Saban a micromanager?”

A: “Another misconception there. He has a vision. He has a plan. And yet, I think the thing that keeps him consistent and ahead of the curve and not just football wise, but everything within the organization is that there is a follow-up as far as what can we do better? What is new out there? What can we do to move things forward whether it is offense, defense, special teams, recruiting, academics, training room, it doesn’t matter. …

McElwain goes on to explain how Saban’s management style influences the organization.
“What he does is set the vision and gets great people around him and lets them be creative,” McElwain said on the Cowherd show. “He really has set the standard.”

Cowherd asked about Saban’s recruiting success. This provided a glimpse into Saban’s recruiting system. Previously, we wrote about how Nick Saban handles personnel evaluations, so check that out if you want a bit more detail from Saban. However, the information McElwain delivers provides additional context.

McElwain said Saban attempts to create a set of criteria that “tries to take the subjectivity out of it.”

“Before a guy ever gets an offer, and it absolutely means nothing how many stars they have, because his deal is that make sure you recruit to the position. He has a specific set of guidelines that helps you be efficient and a good player at that position and help eliminate the critical flaws. …

“In recruiting you are going to miss on some. The key is, not to miss on too many.

“He has the final say. He evaluates every single one of them, as does a position coach, a coordinator, a staff then he looks at it, and then it will go back to the staff and then it will come back to him. So, one one particular player, there may be a total of seven to nine evaluations.”

Again, there is much more in the audio of the interview, and you really should listen to it.

McElwain said Saban knows his flaws and hires good people to help in those deficient areas. Ultimately, Saban does not “micromanage, but sets the vision” for his staff to move forward. This is a great glimpse into Nick Saban and the Process.

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