Alabama’s Head Coach Nick Saban Stands a Cut Above the Rest

Most of what I write comes directly out of my experiences as a competitive athlete (the adversity I faced in that), my coaching and teaching life, and the myriad of experiences garnered as a parent of two competitive athletes, along with the variety of sports behavior consistently publicized in the media.

Other than possibly John Wooden (and I only know of him through a Masters course I took years ago…and some reading about him post-course), I have not really aligned myself directly with any one person or group…other than to back those I believe are on the positive side of a healthy sports experience.

Certainly…groups like Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), and people like coach John Wooden, are at the top of my “support” list when it comes to the principles they believe(d) in and encourage(d) in athletes. Simply put…I just think their belief systems encourage true athletic success, the kind of success where life lessons are born.

Yet…there is another…a current football coach that, in his own way, seems to echo the same foundations coach Wooden believed in. One who, through his coaching principles, inspires each and every one of his athletes to reach their personal full potential…and thus, come together to achieve their team’s full potential.

The individual I am referring to is known by many, as he is considered to be the most dominant college football coach today. Most certainly revered (and likely feared) by his competitors, Alabama’s head football coach…Nick Saban…is the man to beat as the Crimson Tide, is currently undefeated and ranked #1 in the country.

And coach Saban…well….even though not one to take much solace in records, rankings, or personal achievements…he is currently in a position to win a 3rd straight National championship, and 4th in five years. No small feat for sure.

However, what I find most intriguing…and am so utterly captivated by…is what came out of an interview with coach Saban on 60 Minutes last Sunday, some of which I referenced above. I sat and watched (as you should watch) in astonishment at how closely Saban’s foundation for success matched up with what I learned as a competitive athlete. How his de-emphasis on winning and extraordinary emphasis on each athlete working toward becoming the best that they can be at what they do so closely aligns with what I write on this blog...and what Becoming a True Champion supports and encourages.

Here…look for yourself…all while watching and listening for terms/statements (directly or inferred) like:

1. The Process
2. It’s Not About Winning
3. Ignore the Score
4. It’s all about what you (or we) DO…”the wins will follow"
5. Winning is an outcome

So…just in case you didn’t catch it…a big part of the secret to Saban’s success….something I learned as an athlete and since have been preaching my whole adult life, as a coach, a teacher, a speaker, AND as a parent, is that:

It’s not about “winning”…IT’S ABOUT THE PROCESS!!!

What was it that was said in this video piece??? Oh yeah…”Ignore the scoreboard”… “don’t worry about winning”…“just focus on doing your job at the highest level every single play and the wins will follow.”

If that doesn’t embody the idea…no, fact…that winning is an outcome…an outcome of “the process,” I don’t know what does.

There are just so many who don’t seem to get that…and when they don’t…and winning becomes “the goal” above all else…bad things can happen (something I discuss regularly…and Doctor Larry Nassar, Olympic & National Team Doctor, indicated in his italicized commentary toward the end of this piece here).

For Saban (and anyone who practices and/or preaches this idea of process over outcome), it’s not about the other team and what they can do…it’s about what the athlete themselves do. And I quote:

“the approach was to challenge the players to play every play in the game like it had a history and life of its own and tried to take the other team out of the game and make it all about us in terms of what we did.”

Sounds a good deal like (at least to me) what comes out of the foundations set in Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”…in fact is also eerily similar to one of the cornerstones in Becoming a True Champion.

You see…what Saban is doing at Alabama, as his track record indicates, is very much like what John Wooden brought to UCLA basketball back in his day.   They both (coach Wooden in the past…Saban currently) are demonstrating the effectiveness of a thought process…a way of doing things…that puts them, and the athletes they coach(ed), on a different level…a different playing field altogether.

There are a lot of good athletes….a slew of good, successful coaches…but you look closely at the ones who, somehow, rise well above the rest….the ones who don’t just make it to the top but do it consistently over time…the ones who strive to reach their full potential…along with encouraging their athletes to do the same (actually getting them much closer to that than their counterparts)…and a BIG part of what you will find is exactly what is represented right here…what we see in coach Saban.

You really isn't about winning...that will certainly is about PROCESS over OUTCOME, as success...real success...real winning...begins and ends right there!!!

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