Saban the Student to Kiffin? Amazingly Yes!
By: Larry Burton
Before you think the article is sacrilege, remember this, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said when asked about being the smartest coach on the field and he replied the reporter was wrong about that. The reporter asked who is smarter than he was and Bryant’s reply is simple. “All my assistant coaches. I only hire people who are smarter than me. It would be sort of stupid for me not to wouldn’t it? I hire men who can teach me and these athletes more than I know, that’s how we get better.”
So does Saban it seems.
With everything going on in the world of college football from the spread offenses to hurry up, no huddle, to whatever, Saban realized his pro style offense that has been so successful for so long is getting a little too predictable, maybe a little too stale. He brought Kiffin in to learn from him and for Kiffin to teach his team something new and different. Bryant did the same thing when he abandoned his pro style offense which, like Saban’s, worked for a while, but got a little too predictable and stale also. Bryant went to the wishbone and Alabama set new records in offensive production. Kiffin has likewise shown his skill in grooming quarterbacks and boosting offensive stats.
Suddenly, the ire that some if not most Alabama fans felt for Saban bringing Kiffin in to the Alabama family is disappearing as more and more yardage piles up from a running back turned quarterback and a never started transfer.
It was first explained that Kiffin was on the sidelines to better react with the quarterbacks, who needed not only information, but nurturing and reassurance. But if you watch, Saban is there listening in too, watching and yes learning too. Learning how Kiffin reacts to situations as well as how he interacts with the quarterbacks. This defensive minded coach is learning along with the team. Don’t forget, this is also a man who once played quarterback and wanted to learn different offensive styles as a player. He’s enjoying being a student again.
If you think that’s a silly notion, then you don’t understand the mindset of great coaches who know that if you aren’t learning something new everyday you’re not going forward. Saban realized that while Kiffin has some problems as a head coach, he certainly knew how to groom quarterbacks to get the most from them and how to get more production from an offense. That part of Kiffin’s resume has never been doubted.
And Saban doesn’t mind rubbing the success that Kiffin’s brought to his quarterbacks and his offense in the media’s face. After all, the media, like the majority of the fan base were wondering what the hell Saban was thinking with this Kiffin hire. In his press conference just this week, he reminded the press of their reaction.
While no one can say with certainty what the future will bring, one thing does seem certain, Alabama’s numbers on offense will continue to rise under Kiffin and if he stays one, two or more season and leaves, Alabama will be a better team for him having been here and the lessons that were learned by the players and by Saban himself will not be soon forgotten.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter