Alabama coach Nick Saban participated in the 26th annual L’Arche Mobile Football Preview, which was held virtually this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Joined by other SEC head coaches like Gus Malzhan, Jeremy Pruitt and Kirby Smart, Saban discussed a variety of topics, including leadership in the face of crisis and his thoughts on his 2020 team.
Below is everything Saban said during his 5-minute appearance on the 2020 football preview.
What’s the best lessons you’ve learned playing or coaching sports?
“I think the best lesson that I learned coaching and playing sports is basically the character of competition. There’s a lot of things that go into that. You learn work ethic, you learn perseverance, how to work with other people, how to overcome adversity, pride in performance, trying to be the best you can be at whatever it is you do because in competition, you’re actually faced off against someone else. So, all these things, to me, are the same kinds of things that help you to be successful in life, and I think that’s probably the thing that I learned early on in competition.”
What was your greatest single moment as an athlete or coach?
“It’s really hard to point out just one thing that was my greatest moment as an athlete or a coach. I think every championship that you win is something that is very special because of the relationship that you have with the team, the togetherness on that particular team, everybody buying in to doing all the things they needed to do to help the team be successful. It’s kind of a special feeling. So, to say one was better than the other, I can’t say that. Even when we won the state championship in high school, that was just as good as all the rest. So, when you’re in coaching and you’re trying to climb the mountain and you’re trying to be the best, when you win the championship and you accomplish that, that’s probably one the best feelings that you ever get. Personally, it’s completely different. Family, having children, raising children. I mean, a lot of the self-gratification that comes from all of that is far greater than winning any championship.”
What can you say about leadership in the face of crisis?
“I think leadership in the face of crisis is when you really do see true leadership. People who can stay focused on what they can control and not worry so much about what they can’t control, and therefore, you have the opportunity to control the circumstance rather than the circumstance that you’re in controlling you. And I think that if you can do that calm in the midst of chaos — is what I always say — and set a good example for other people, be somebody that they can emulate, understand what they’re going through and the uncertainty that it may create and try to help them for their benefit, you still need to serve other people even in crisis. Sometimes you say, ‘Well, there’s nothing I can do.’ Sometimes your presence is just as important that you care than anything that you really might be able to do to fix whatever the problem is.”
Do you have any message for us during this current crisis?
“I think, first of all, what we’re going through right now with this pandemic, the No. 1 concern anybody has is the health and safety of people everywhere. And I think, obviously, if you follow the health guidelines that have been established by our government and our communities, it’s the best opportunity to slow the spread of this, whether it’s washing your hands, social distancing, staying at home whenever possible. I think we have to do this together, and everybody’s gotta do their part. And I think once, maybe, we’re not taxing the healthcare system so dramatically, maybe we can start to get back to normal.”
Can you share a few points about your football team in this upcoming season?
“That’s kind of difficult because all we’ve had with this particular team is the offseason program. Some of the things that I really liked about this team so far is we had the best attention to detail, the most discipline — guys going to class — on and off the field. Whether it was guys going to class, fewer points, guys doing a good job in the offseason program and not having a lot of issues and problems. But because we didn’t have spring practice, it’s really hard to evaluate the progress, especially of the younger players who are less experienced who benefit the most from spring practice. Hopefully, if we can get back to some kind of summer program, we’ll be able to systematically implement something that will help the development so these guys will be a little more ready for fall camp.”
Can you say a word about L’Arche Mobile?
“I think L’Arche Mobile is a great organization that helps so many people. We have great compassion for people, and we’ve tried to do a lot to help people in our community, give people that are less fortunate than us an opportunity to have a better chance to be successful and happy in their life. This is something that L’Arche Mobile has done a really good job of for a long, long time, and we appreciate that more than you can know.”
Did you know BOL has a podcast? The Built By BamaOnLine Podcast brings you the latest Alabama news and insight from Travis Reier, Charlie Potter, Hank South and Tim Watts. Catch the latest episode right here or subscribe on iTunes today!
Contact Charlie Potter by personal message or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).