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Friday, August 30, 2013

THE SECRET OF NICK SABAN

The following is an excerpt from an article in GQ written by Warren St. John:

Saban's guiding vision is something he calls "the process," a philosophy that emphasizes preparation and hard work over consideration of outcomes or results. Barrett Jones, an offensive lineman on all three of Saban's national championship teams at Alabama and now a rookie with the St. Louis Rams, explains the process this way: "It's not what you do, it's how you do it."

Taken to an extreme—which is where Saban takes it—the process has evolved into an exhausting quest to improve, to attain the ideal of "right is never wrong." At Alabama, Saban obsesses over every aspect of preparation, from how the players dress at practice—no hats, earrings, or tank tops are allowed in the football facility—to how they hold their upper bodies when they run sprints. "When you're running and you're exhausted you really want to bend over," Jones says. "They won't let you. 'You must resist the human need to bend over!'"

Sometimes players learn about Saban's arcane preparation only when they encounter the external factor it is intended to control. During a lightning delay in the second quarter of the 2012 Alabama-Missouri game, Tide players jogged back to their locker room to find dry shoes, chairs arranged by position, and coaches ready with teaching material to keep them occupied during the break. A coach might go his entire career without experiencing a weather delay, but Saban was ready. His players dubbed it "the lightning audible."

Jones says that while all the talk of "the process" can sometimes seem mysterious—the cultic manifesto of that demonic head coach—it's actually quite straightforward.

"He pretty much tells everybody what our philosophy is, but not everyone has the discipline to actually live out that philosophy," Jones says. "The secret of Nick Saban is, there is no secret."