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Why NFL scouts say Nick Saban is the most open head coach in college football

Being a successful college football head coach, like anything else in life, is about relationships. And among all the constituencies that coaches must forge ties with, none should be easier than with NFL scouts and other personnel people. The college coach and the pro scout should be the most symbiotic relationship there is: college coaches need their players picked by the NFL, and scouts need players.

And yet a relationship that should be easy too often ends up being the opposite.

Take, for example, Penn State under Joe Paterno. Scouts were rarely allowed inside the walls of the Nittany Lions' football building, and when they were each player got the same line from Penn State coaches: He's a great player who loves football.

Except a line that was intended to put the players' best foot forward ended up backfiring.

“When you’re getting the company line on every single guy, you don’t know who that (great) guy is,” Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told Sports Illustrated. “They were hurting the kids who did all the right things.”

SI's Andy Staples surveyed scouts to find the most NFL-friendly head coach, and the answer may be surprising: Nick Saban.

Saban rolls out the red carpet for scouts year-round, not just on Pro Day. But more than that, Saban fosters an open and honest relationship with scouts that serves both sides well in the long run. Scouts know they can get information they can trust from Saban, and in turn Saban gets valued information on stay-or-go decisions that current Tide players are weighing.

“We’ve always had a significant number of juniors that have a business decision to make about whether they stay in school or come out,” Saban says. “My philosophy has always been that I want it to be as open as possible and treat everybody as well as possible. Because we need them to get their information for the player to make a good business decision. Where would you pick this guy?"

Saban is far from the only scout-friendly coach in the game, though. To see the whole list, read the full piece here.