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Ryan Clark on playing for Nick Saban: “He was still a turd then”

Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

He was one of the best defensive backs to come through Louisiana State University, but Ryan Clark had a different reality in learning Coach Nick Saban.

Saban got hired as LSU’s head coach in 2000 and stayed through 2004.

He coached Clark in 2000 and 2001, watching him make second-team All-Southeastern Conference in 2000. Clark finished third on the Tigers for tackles in 2001 (88) and had 63 solo stops with three interceptions. He greatly respects Saban for what he did, but Clark and Saban did not start on the right foot. Saban got on to Clark a lot, but the talented defender did not understand why he did it. In a segment from the Variety House Podcast, Clark said Saban ‘was still a turd then’ at LSU.

'HE WAS STILL A TURD THEN' - Ryan Clark On Playing For Nick Saban At LSU

Clark went into a story about how he quit football in bowl practice because Saban was on him.

He was the best player on the defense, but Saban knew he could not talk to other players in the same way as Clark. He used Clark as his tool to get his message across to the team. The former Super Bowl champion did not get Saban’s method at first, but he understood after having a meeting with him. Clark did not get drafted into the National Football League in 2002, but he signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. As a Louisiana native, Clark turned in a great career — playing 13 seasons in the league (2002-14) for the Giants, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Redskins again. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers, fulfilling what Saban told him about how his players stay in the league for a long time.

He was tough on Clark, but Saban is the reason for Clark having a tough mindset.

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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.

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.

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