There is one thing noticeable in process-oriented coaches -- they remain the same regardless of the outcome of the game with their team. The final score has little say in the evaluation of the team's performance. And this makes an impact on the the players and their own evaluation. They just aren't satisfied with winning.
This was brought out in a recent New York Times article on Nick Saban and the Alabama football team. After defeating #20 Southern Cal 52-6, Saban said, “If you want to know the truth about it, I wasn’t pleased with the way we played.”
Running Back Damien Harris has obviously bought in the process-oriented culture when he said, “At the end of the day, if we’re not playing our best, then it’s not a good game.”
Coach Saban is interested in dominating your opponent individually and collectively one play at a time. The result of that type of philosophy is a player like Calvin Ridley saying “We have to get better and keep working,” after a 34-6 victory over Kentucky.
Always looking for improvement.
As written by Marc Tracy:
“We have to get better and keep working,” wide receiver Calvin Ridley added after a 34-6 win over Kentucky on Oct. 1 during which Ridley, a sophomore, caught 11 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Saban’s perpetual dourness is only somewhat surprising. The coach, among the best in college history, preaches “the process,” one that takes apart complex goals, such as winning a game or a national title, into their smallest possible units and perfects them. For the Tide, that means emphasizing the flaws in single plays over more salutary final results, such as the four national championships Saban’s Tide have won in the past seven seasons.
Although Saban’s personality is anything but Zen, his outlook can seem rather Eastern, reminiscent of the koan that states: Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
“What we try to do with our players is be very technical about the things that they did well and get them positive self-gratification with those things,” Saban said recently. But, he added, the team does not overlook mistakes “just because we won the game.”
Harris said the players imbibed this message.
“That’s how he is, that’s how he coaches us, and that’s how we are as a team,” he said. “We enjoy our victories, but at the end of the day, we watch film, we see the mistakes we made, and we’re not satisfied.”
And then there’s this from Greg McElroy, an ESPN commentator who played quarterback on Saban’s first national title team at Alabama, in 2009, who said it helped to know that nothing would alter Saban’s disposition — the same things would be demanded no matter a game’s result.
“He’s the same guy after a big win as a crushing loss,” McElroy said. “That’s why the team never really fluctuates.”
He added: “I’m not kidding when I say this: We could be playing Texas in the national championship game or Western Carolina, and it was the same guy.”
Or as an enlightened Saban might put it: Before beating Auburn, practice hard, study film; after beating Auburn, practice hard, study film.