Skip to main content

Nick Saban: I tell my assistants all the time, 'If you want to do it that way, get a head job and you can do it that way'

Alabama plays The Citadel this week. It's an annual holiday in Tuscaloosa -- or, really, the opposite of a holiday... an anti-holiday? -- when the Crimson Tide takes a working off week against an FCS team to tune up for the Iron Bowl and (in what is basically a regular part of the schedule now) the SEC Championship. This game always freaks Nick Saban out, because it's a football game where they're keeping score and a loss would be very, very bad for Alabama and very, very aggravating for Saban personally.

And yet there is very, very, very little chance Alabama will actually lose the game. The fans know it, the media know it, the opponent knows it and, worst of all for Saban, his own players know it. The very concept of this annual game tears at Saban's football constitution, where each game and each opponent deserves the appropriate fear and respect, and yet Saban can't get the rest of the world to see the game the way he sees it because, well, we're not stupid. There's a reason Alabama scheduled The Citadel this week and not Clemson.

On Monday, Saban was asked about the prospect of resting Tua Tagovailoa to protect his bum knee for the more important games waiting. The question bothered Saban then and it still clearly bothered him on Wednesday, when he launched into a diatribe about how everyone is entitled to their own opinions but, on the crimson planet he lives on, there's one opinion that matters and it's his.

"It really doesn't matter what anybody else thinks," Saban said. "They have every right to work like I've worked for 40-something years as a coach, get a job and have their own team. Then they can make any decision that they want. I tell the assistants that all the time: 'You want to do it that way? Get you a head job and you can do it that way. Aight?' But right now this is the way we're going to do it."

Two things:

1) This is Saban mellowing in his advanced years. You can still see the gears turning inside his brain when he ramps it into fifth gear but he can now downshift back into first gear just as quickly, whereas up until 2014 or so he would have remained bothered about this until at least the middle of next week and possibly into mid-February.

2) Can you imagine working on a Nick Saban staff to where he looks at you and says, "You want to do it that way? Get you a head job and you can do it that way. Aight?'" I would need to keep an extra set of shorts and underwear in my office just for this specific purpose.