Connect with us

Alabama Football News

Appreciation is real: Why Nick Saban can’t shake away from Alabama?

Nick Saban runs off the field in 2017 College Football Playoff title game versus Clemson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What do you see when you turn on your local television station at 6 p.m., on weekdays in the fall after a long day of work? Honestly, it depends on the occasion. Sometimes he’s happy, at times he is busting your chops with jokes, and then there are moments when he snaps, forces you to look at a Coke bottle and it’s calculated.

It will take some time to understand why head coach Nick Saban goes about business the way he does; however, one of the reasons is for him to be appreciated with what he’s been given.

Although he signed a three-year extension (five-year deal) on Tuesday, there was a time in which Saban would not touch that process with a 10-foot pole. With the exception of his wife, Mrs. Terry, the 65-year-old was not big on commitment where football is concerned. In fact, he’s the one who created the mantra of not staying at a program or institution longer than five years.

Whether it was the idea of overstaying his welcome, a lack of trust for the organization he was in or not having complete control of a program, Saban always knew when to cut ties from a team. In painting a broad stroke of his career, he’s been able to shake from major college football programs and professional venues – until he came in contact with Alabama. The southern hospitality that greeted him and his wife at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport in January of 2007 is still strong, as he enters his 11th head coaching season in August.

Joining the hospitality is complete control. Was Saban given the reins to run Michigan State University, Louisiana State University or the Miami Dolphins his way? More than likely no, seeing that he left the two college programs in five years and the NFL team after two seasons – due to him not getting the quarterback he wanted. If Saban gets Drew Brees in Miami, the Patriots don’t have five Super Bowl rings, only God knows what would have become of the Alabama football department and the Saints would not even have a franchise.

Before his death, athletic director Mal Moore extended Saban the ultimate gift.

He handed the tough-loving coach the keys to Tuscaloosa to control the institution. What he could not get in the National Football League, he’s molded in college football. Saban can freely walk into homes or high school venues and pick any recruit he wants. Nowadays, student-athletes are obsessed with playing in college and earning an opportunity at the NFL.

Throughout the recruitment process, young athletes observe three things: wins, championships and the best chance to go pro. Throw in some education, and almost instantly the first school to float up is the University of Alabama. Under Saban’s regime, the Tide has won five Southeastern Conference championships, four national championships, seven consecutive recruiting titles and has placed 65 individuals in the NFL Draft since 2009 – including 22 first-round selections.

For the “experts” out there that believe Saban has underachieved by winning only four national titles in 10 years, there are coaches and programs that lust and dream to just win one. Forty percent of his time in crimson and white, he’s held a championship trophy (golden football or crystal ball) at the end.

This is a lot more than what most teams can even fathom about reaching.

Lastly, it’s the support of fans that has kept Saban grounded. Having a stadium packed with people every Saturday in the fall, and fans roaming the Quad among other areas yelling “Roll Tide” does the coach’s heart good. Even the adorable buttons that read “I’m a Nick’s chick” on the dresses of sorority girls provide a smile on the man’s face.

He wants to win another championship and many more as he continues coaching, but at the heart of him, Saban desires appreciation more than anything. No matter what Tuscaloosa has been through – 2011 tornado – Saban has been there to help the community and challenges his players to do the same thing. So when you see him yelling, blasting out a reporter, giving a coach an “ass chewing” on the sidelines or anything else, he’s doing it because he loves his team, the fans and the program that was delivered to him.

As a token to him, he wants to make sure he’s appreciated.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

More in Alabama Football News