The secret of their success

There are going to be a lot of tired takes on the Saban-Smart face off over the next few days.  Gentry Estes, who covered Alabama and Georgia, doesn’t write one of them.

Saban has, of course, since built one of college football’s all-time great dynasties at Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won four national titles under Saban and will play for a fifth Monday night against Georgia in Atlanta.

Yet the secret to Saban’s success at Alabama hasn’t been much of a secret. Sure, his teams are well-coached. They tend to be physical, disciplined, machine-like in execution.

But they also have better players than everyone else.

In terms of an old debate in college football circles — is it X’s and O’s or Jimmies and Joes? — Saban’s Alabama dominance has been very much about the latter. It’s not much more complicated than that.

“The plays are great, the schemes are great, all that stuff,” former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin said earlier this season. “But, look, the coaches keep coming and changing, coordinators, offense, defense, everything, Kirby (Smart). All the guys change over time. At the end of the day, it’s great players. And it’s not because it’s Alabama. It’s him. It’s because he works harder at recruiting than anybody in the country, and that’s why.

“Everybody says, ‘Oh, well, he’s got better players than everybody.’ Well, they didn’t just show up there. They came there because of how he recruited them. He outworked people and showed them why to come there and why to play for him.”

If you’re a Georgia fan, that sounds very familiar right now.



Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

25 responses to “The secret of their success

  1. Uglydawg

    I can see Kiffin coaching Alabama some day. So can he, I think.


    • Mayor

      Funny, I CAN’T see Kiffin coaching at Alabama.


      • jermainesdye

        This is a fan-base that labeled Bill Curry as a permanent outsider, an exotic ne’er-do-well, after he went 10-2, lost to Auburn, and had the audacity to feature shovel passes as a staple of his offense

        Can you imagine Lane Kiffin steering the ship in Tuscaloosa after failing to reach Saban-like levels of success?


  2. I’ll say this about this team. We aren’t playing on Monday night without the buy-in of the remaining players from the Richt era. Sprinkle in the young men from the last 2 classes. Take a head coach who seemed to learn his lessons from his year 1 OJT. Mix in what appears to be incredible development in S&C. You have a combination that could win the whole thing.

    Going forward, you know Kirby is building a Jimmies and Joes’ monster. Always be recruiting.


    • Reinmart

      Of course. I’ll go a step further and say that we aren’t in this game without those 4 seniors coming back that could be getting paid right now.


  3. Peter Schreck

    Maybe there was something to that “Throwaway Season” after all?


  4. Derek

    I think we got this and I’m gonna tell you why:

    Alabama likes to come out in base and convince the other team they can’t run, so they spread out. Bama responds with nickel and begins to take apart the qb mentally and physically. This serves alabama well vs. teams whose identities are spread and finesse. Have they played a downhill running team? If they have to play with 3 or 4 lbs with the injuries they’ve had there can they hold up for 4 quarters? We need lots of looks with FBs, 2 TB’s at the same time and three TE’s. Make them play LB’s that they don’t have or would rather not play. If they match up those looks with nickel, run power at it.
    18 on Ridley all night and he’s not a big factor. Baker shuts his guy down. We shut down the running game and make hurts beat us with his other receivers. If he wants to run, we’ve got Roquan waiting.

    The match up is what we want. All we have to do is show up physically and mentally ready for a slug fest. This is a game where we get in a phone booth and start throwing haymakers and see who blinks.

    If we’re not initiated by the moment or the opponent and we give as good as we get we actually have more and better layers at the positions that matter:

    Our RBs vs theirs- UGA
    Fromm vs. hurts – uga
    Hardman, Wims, Godwin and Riley vs. Ridley- UGA
    Rodrigo – adv. UGA

    Their advantage is at DB and OL.

    And don’t forget that Bellamy’s life long dream is this game. He was told he wasn’t good enough to play at Bama. When that dude is locked in and focused he’s a terror.

    I see a changing of the guard. I don’t think we’re gonna have to wait. Saban in year 2 ran into Timmy and a great UF defense in Atlanta and came up short. We’ve got a better draw here IMO.

    Liked by 4 people

    • siskey

      I hope you are correct!


    • The loss of Jennings from the LB spot can’t be overestimated. Clemson could not block that cat all nite; now, he gone. UGa’s RB battalion vs. the ever shrinking LB group for Bama is a crushing advantage for the Dawgs. And per the point about loading up with TEs early in the game, those can become dangerous targets later on breaking through the seams.

      Anyone that still has doubts should check what the Money People think — the spread has already dropped 1 pt. towards the good guys.


    • Mayor

      Good analysis D. I hope you are right.


    • dawgman3000

      I like what you’re saying Derek.


    • dawgtired

      Nice analysis and I like your thinking, Derek…but I don’t want to be a ‘yes man’, so I have a question (for anyone).
      What is the take on Bama’s safeties in run-game support. OU’s DBs lacked the physical run-game support and Chubb and Sony made them pay with large runs.
      Also, will Bama go heavy and play more 4-3 with DL since the LB corps is thin?
      …not being negative, I’m just a concerned Dawg citizen trying to work out the details. There is a good chance Kirby will be calling me again to help with some scheming and I want to be prepared 😉


      • Derek

        Like us, they use corner type players at safety and count on them in coverage more than run support. Both teams want to control the north south run game with 6 and play nickel. I hope they won’t be able to. We may get away with it because which would be huge, but probably unlikely.

        I see this game as more of the LSU/Bama slug fests that we’ve seen in the past. The approaches and talent are similar, but we don’t have Les Miles thank God.


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      I like what you’re saying but Alabama is still 3 years ahead of us in recruiting.


    • Eldawg

      Johnson #21 from AU ran for over 100 yards with one arm. AU defense made Hurts look bad. We can do the same.


  5. kfoge

    Saban hasn’t won a NC since Kirby left, just saying! 🙂


  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    And Bama has 4 top ranked recruiting classes on the roster, and we have . . . less than that. That’s what worries me about this game.


  7. Russ

    I’m beginning to think that Kirby was the secret recruiting sauce that Saban had. If so, then look out!

    And I like our chances on Monday. Yes, we had the harder fight this week, but we are healthier than Bama, and I think our depth is at least equal, if not better.


  8. Reinmart

    I was just thinking, we have had several Bama commits flip to UGA in the last couple of years but zero that I can recall going the other way.

    Kirby has got this cruitin’ thing down to a science.


  9. Jared S.

    This is exactly the point that Kirby himself made on a CFP conference call this week:

    When asked whether or not knowing Saban’s “tendencies” would help him coach against him Smart laughed and said something like “his tendencies are to work really hard and recruit really big fast talented players. We have to go out there and block them and run against them and tackle them.”

    He basically said Saban isn’t doing anything magical, he’s just doing fundamentals and recruiting better than anyone.

    And yeah. Sounds like UGA Under Smart is headed that way!


  10. AusDawg85

    We will be a little vanilla in the first half on offense. We’ll get stuffed on 3 – 6 play drives 4 or 5 times. Might get one score in with some good execution. Bama will roll on offense initially. Expect something like 17 – 3 at the half…

    …which Kirby will have thrown away…

    Then we start pounding and running in the 2nd half. Bama wears down. Hurts gets sacked and creates a turnover. Dawgs smell the kill and go for it. We go ahead 27 – 24 late in the 4th. Bama driving with less than 2 to play. They get to the 3 with 7 seconds left on the clock. Saban sends the kicker on.

    A miracle happens…Dawgs win!

    That Kirby…he’s a sly one.


    • What I wouldn’t give to see Bama malfunction from the 5yl like UGa did in 2012. With how the entire breadth of this season has played out it would be like living on an alternate plane of reality. Or maybe just the newly established one.