If you think Kirby Smart overextended himself during games by involving himself in every aspect of game management, you need to read this New York Times story about Nick Saban during games. It explains a lot.
Saban himself would most likely attribute most of his success to his teams’ talent, which is annually among the best in the country. But even Saban credits his in-game decisions to pregame preparations. He has a small army of talented assistant coaches at his disposal — in addition to the nine allowed under N.C.A.A. rules, Alabama employs a special assistant, nine staff members in operations or personnel and at least eight “analysts.” The group included for much of the year five men (not including Saban) who have led a top-tier college football team of their own.
Which is to say: Saban delegates, but only to a strictly defined degree.
“Coach Saban is very hands-on in every part of our program,” the Tide’s first-year defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt, told reporters recently, “from the weight room to the nutrition to all the way down to, you know, what we’re going to wear to this press conference.”
The difference, of course, is that Saban isn’t the guy who’s surrounded himself with a new cast of coaches. Nor is he the guy who’s in his first year as a head coach at a school with an athletic administration whose management motto hasn’t exactly been “all in”.
If you’re Kirby Smart, that’s what on the job training gets you sometimes.