I'm a big believer in the fact that great teams, championship teams are developed when the coaches aren't around -- the locker room, off-season workouts, in the community. "Who's running your locker room" is always a key factor. Can your leaders work in such a way that the young one's will follow? This is where culture comes in.
In a meeting with his team before parting for spring break, Coach Saban told his team he wanted them to workout four times over the break. Saban commented:
"And we'll know the players who worked out four times and did not dissipate in terms of gaining weight and who took care of themselves, because you won't be able to respond in practice like you want to if you don't do those things. Now, we don't call and make sure they do it. We don't have a postcard that they fill out. We can't make them do it, so we encourage them to do it."
I believed this statement showed trust on Coach Saban's part as well as a standard of accountability that could be checked when they returned.
The other statements from this article that was impressive came from the players themselves that showed both leadership and commitment to their team:
When linebacker Ruben Foster was asked how his trip to Miami he said he didn't make it to the beach. Instead he:
"Worked out. Studied. Tried to call the young guys, check up on them, them checking up on me."Tight end O.J. Howard and quarterback David Cornwell travelled to Houston together to work on routes with each other. As Howard stated:
"We both want to win for the team so whenever you've got a bunch of guys on the team who are dedicated like that it's going to help the team in the long run."
Culture and process makes the difference over the long haul. One final statement from Coach Saban shows his trust in his players and the belief that culture is strong:
"I didn't ask anyone how much they worked out over spring, but it's a real indicator of how important football is to them, and how important that is for them to be a good player. If a guy just went and did nothing for the whole time, he's not very committed to improving himself and having a significant role on the team. I think it tells you a lot about a player's competitive character, how important football is to them, and how important the team is to them in how he does those things."