On the cusp of the 'Iron Bowl' rivalry game and the eve of Thanksgiving, Nick Saban delivered an all-time rant that probably best could be summed up as, “Hey Alabama fans, be glad you got me and us.”
Conducting his weekly radio show Wednesday night at a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, area restaurant, the Tide's 15th-year head coach with very little preamble delivered an impassioned, more-than-two-minute monologue about the art of winning in college football – and not being consumed by whatever margin of victory comes with those wins.
The Tide, No. 3 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings, have at times looked frightfully mortal to their fan base en route to an 10-1 season and Southeastern Conference Western Division title.
“We played LSU, everybody says, 'Ah, they lost two games in a row. They're not any good anymore, all right. We're just going to blow them out.' It's just the opposite, it's just the opposite of that, all right. They're competitors, they have moms and dads. They have pride in performance, they have things that they want to accomplish and they want to do and they want to be good, all right. They don't just throw in the towel, all right. They work harder to try to get better. And everybody wants to beat us, all right. So we're going to get everybody's best game, and I don't know why people can't understand that.”
Sensing Saban really driving home his point – and pausing for a breath, the fans in attendance work their way to a rousing round of cheers. Saban isn't remotely done.
“You know, you could say it's not fair to our players that they get everybody's best game, all right. But they do, all right. And they have to be able to compete through that and play over that, and, you know, it's, I don't know. I mean, when I came here everybody was happy to win a game, all right. Now we're not happy to win a game anymore. We're not happy to win a game at all, all right. We think we should win games by whatever. I don't think that's fair to our players, either, all right, because our players work their butt off, all right, to be the best that they can be, all right. And to get criticized for what they work hard for to do so that you can be entertained, all right, so that you can enjoy and have pride and passion for what they accomplish and what they do. They're not perfect, all right. They're just college students. They go to school every day, they gotta study, all right. They have to run extra after practice when they miss study hall. I mean, c'mon! Gimme a break. This is not professional football. These guys aren't getting paid to play here. They're representing you all. You should be proud and happy to support them. And appreciate what they do and have some gratitude.”
Saban now winds to his conclusion.
“You know what else? Nobody wants to win worse than they do. Not me. Not you. I don't care what kind of fan you are, nobody wants to win more than they players that play! Nobody.”
As Eli Gold, radio voice of the Tide, begins to compliment Saban by uttering, “That was magnificently said,” Saban isn't done and finishes with an emphatic message and throwing his hands in the air.
“And nobody feels worse than they do when they lose. Nobody. So for all you self-absorbed folks out there who can't look past your own self, all right, to appreciate what other people are doing …”
The Tide, who have won at least 10 games for 14 consecutive years, as well as six national championships under Saban, visit Auburn Saturday at 3:30 in both teams' regular-season finale.