Louis Riddick says playing for Nick Saban and Bill Belichick was like “hell on wheels”
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He is an analyst for the National Football League on ESPN, but he is the biggest resource for scouting players in the league.
Louis Riddick, a former NFL safety, served as a pro scout and director of pro personnel for the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. As an alum of the University of Pittsburgh, Riddick was a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns from 1993 to 1995. He played under head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Nick Saban. Riddick was featured on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill, and Max to discuss Eric Bieniemy’s opportunity to be an offensive coordinator for the Commanders.
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The conversation was based on coaching in today’s world. Riddick said soft coaching does not equate to consistent wins and championships.
He referred to Belichick and Saban as the best in the game because they demand the best from their players. Riddick spoke glowingly of Saban and Belichick but said he could not sleep because they constantly held him accountable. Both were not buddy-buddy coaches. They were not trying to be your friends; however, both excelled in their job. Belichick has six Super Bowl rings, and Saban has seven national championship rings, including six at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
*Riddick talks old-school coaching from Bill Belichick and Nick Saban at the 6:30 mark
“There are many ways to skin a cat as far as coaching,” Riddick said.
“I’ve had the coaches who were more so pat you on the rear end, positive reinforcement, don’t yell, don’t raise their voice, but I have also been coached by Belichick and Saban at the same damn time. They had me lying awake at night. I never slept when I played in Cleveland. I did not want the next day to come too quickly because I knew it was going to be hell on wheels every day. The thumb was on you every day in terms of how they held you accountable and the things they would say, but they are two of the greats college and pro.”
Riddick’s three aspects for coaches are credibility, competence, and positive impact.
Saban and Belichick have all three. Saban started his tenure for the Crimson Tide as a hard-nosed coach. His toughness and holding players accountable guided the Tide to national championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017. Alabama endured a COVID-shortened season in 2020, but Saban’s leadership took to a College Football Playoff National Championship.
He has not gotten full buy-in from players in the last two years, but Saban looks to grab that back in the upcoming fall.
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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.