For a while now, Tuscaloosa has been a place where coaches looking to revive their head coaching dreams continue to flock to learn from the greatest to have ever done it as they soak up as much as possible before landing another opportunity to put their newfound knowledge to use.
The Nick Saban School for Rehabilitating Coaches provided opportunities for a few coaches in particular this off season. Perhaps the most famous graduate of the program to date is Lane Kiffin, but Steve Sarkisian and Butch Jones are the two most recent success stories with new programs to lead.
A lot has been said of Saban's ability to get coaches ready to lead programs, but there hasn't ever been anything concrete shared, only very general and vague statements. Surely it's much more than simply being in the same room during a staff meeting, or seeing how he lays out his day, right?
Well, now we have some specific insight, thanks to Butch Jones.
Arkansas State marks Jones' fourth head coaching stop (after stints at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Tennessee), but it is his first since spending a few seasons under Nick Saban's tutelage, most recently as the special assistant to the head coach.
His previous head coaching experience, especially in the SEC, made Butch uniquely qualified to take some things off Saban's plate this past season, and also provided some unique one-one-one moments that Jones said were integral to his growth as a coach.
Some of those moments included Saban asking Jones his personal opinion on something, and that forced him to have to think about his coaching convictions fast on his feet, he shared with TideSports.
“You have to be on your toes because he would call me in on a number of occasions and ask me my opinion."
"What it forces you to do is, you better be ready, you better bring something substantial to the table, it better be well thought out, it better be detailed and it better be authentic. When you get called in and asked your opinion, it really forces you to do your research, it really forces you to do your due diligence and it challenges your conviction and what you believe in.”
The knowledge that Jones was able to soak up during conversations like that is immeasurable, and has left a lasting impression. Jones went on to share that as he was building his Red Wolves staff, he'd often reflect by asking "What would Nick Saban do?" quite often.
Head here to read the full piece from Tide Sports, including how Jones was on the verge of accepting another opportunity before Alabama called.