Saban Proving You Can Do It The Right Way Without Cheating
By: Larry Burton
Even for the fans that pull from different teams, they have to pass a begrudging respect to Nick Saban for one thing. While they may not like his winning ways, so far they’ve had to admit that he does it without going afoul of the NCAA rules.
This week college basketball saw a slew of top year in and year out contending teams that broke some very serious NCAA regulations on giving players and potential players extra benefits not allowed, usually money. For some programs, it will shake them down to the very core.
But Saban runs a clean program and he keeps the Tide on top year after year and with this being the big week of college scandals and cheating, let’s celebrate someone doing the right thing.
Why is Nick Saban different then?
Maybe it was the core of his upbringing. Do things as well as you can possibly do them, and do them the right way. That’s one of the first lessons he gives a new player according to many of the players I’ve interviewed over the years. “Coach Saban will tell you that nobody’s perfect, but that’s what you have to strive for in everything you do, in every snap in practice, to every play in the game and to even in living your life. Keep doing that and everything will work itself out.” AJ McCarron told me during his playing years.
So what makes Saban this way?
“When I was a kid, my father would check everything I did, homework, cleaning windshields on cars that came in, everything and he didn’t check that was done, but that it was done the right way and got the best results.” Nick Saban once told me. “It wasn’t just the results, but that I had done it the right way. You see, he knew if I did things the right way that I’d get the right results more often than just going through the motions of getting it done.”
That and a firm Christian upbringing and adult life re-enforces the decisions that Nick Saban still makes to this day.
“I tell my players that a whole great career can be tarnished with just one mistake in personal judgement, that years of toil sweat and achievement can all be stained by just a minute or two of bad decisions.” He told a group of us reporters. And he doesn’t just preach this to his players, he lives that life himself.
“Everybody probably has good beliefs in their heart,” Saban continued, “But not all us work hard to live by them every day, in every circumstance in our lives.” Saban finished.
There’s an old quote from C.S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian professor that taught at both Oxford and Cambridge. “Intgrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” And that is another lesson that Saban not only teaches, but lives by himself.
He does it not from a history of seeing other coaches who thought they could get away with things and getting caught, but of being true to his own convictions.
These days it’s hard to get people to believe that when someone, some company, program or team is on top, that they didn’t get there without shaving a few rules here and there. It’s just public nature to believe such things.
But not even one of Nick Saban’s harshest critics can point to a program that he brought shame to be trying to circumvent the rules.
So while Alabama can take great pride in the accomplishments that Nick Saban has helped bring to the institution, they should be doubly proud that they he brought them to the school by doing things the right way.
Nice guys can finish first after all.
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