“You just took 10 years off my life,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, after his Tide edged out the Aggies 49-42 last Saturday. Sumlin must have been surprised when he heard that. Could there be any better compliment he receives for the rest of his life? Nick Saban, who will go down as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, basically told Sumlin that the game stressed him out so much he already looks and feels older than he already is.
I cannot think of a more intimidating sports figure, past or present. Saban’s more intimidating than Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis and Muhammad Ali. I’m not afraid to admit it; this guy seriously scares me through the television screen. And do I like him for it? Not at all. Not too long ago, I wished Saban were some kind of character, a guy who was known for a bad press conference that went viral on YouTube, had some kind of obsession with Spider Man, or secretly was a world champion hot dog eater. But he’s not. He simply coaches football. And I’ve realized now that’s what college football needs more of.
I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not a huge, die-hard fan of college football like almost everyone else is. I hate the BCS system. I hate the fact that there are only about 15 teams that have a realistic shot of winning it all. In fact, my favorite part of the day is when Lee Corso throws on the mascot head, thousands of college students behind him cheer or boo (depending on whether or not Corso’s picking their school) and then College Gameday ends. After that, I lose interest in the games. What would make want to watch a game between Virginia and Indiana or Cincinnati and Cal? Nothing. I won’t even pay attention to Michigan, the team I “like”, that much because I know there’s a very small chance they’ll play in the national championship in January. What I hate even more about college football is that there seems to be a new scandal or controversy involving a player, coach or entire team every week.
Whether it be a team issue like Oklahoma State, Ohio State or Miami, or a specific problem with a player like Johnny Manziel or Cam Newton or Terelle Pryor, it seems college football is always more than just college football. Even coaches running off to more appealing schools whenever they please, like Lane Kiffin or Todd Graham, annoy me. And while Saban isn’t perfect, he’s been accused of things in the past as well (such as oversigning on National Signing Day) what he’s done at Alabama is somewhat refreshing.
Even though I don’t like Alabama, I respect them more and more each week. Not only because they’re the best team in the country, but they’re only in the news because they win. Johnny Football is fun to watch on the field, but what he did in the offseason, not to mention how SportsCenter covered it, is the first thing that comes to my mind when I see him. Not only that, but he made headlines for his celebrations. Did anyone else see what Saban did after T.J.
Yeldon mocked Manziel’s celebration after scoring a TD? Saban got in his face and yelled at him for the 15 yard penalty he was given.
Every coach wants to win, but not all of them have success. Saban has success because he makes sure his team not only wins, but is flawless doing it. And to him, they never are until they win the championship. During every halftime interview Saban will always mention what his team is doing wrong before what they’re doing right, if he even mentions that at all. His drive for success is unmatched in the college football world, and that’s what makes him the best in the game right now.
Is he a guy I would invite to a party or to just have over and shoot the breeze? No way. The guy doesn’t look fun at all. He’s always going to scare me. He’s always going to be the most intimidating guy out there to me. Even the three or four lines he had in “The Blind Side” didn’t give me the heartwarming feeling that the other hour and 28 minutes did. But do I respect what Saban as a coach and what he has done at Alabama? Absolutely. In fact, he’s one of the few things that I do respect in a college football.