Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules

Who is this “defensive coordinator” you speak of?

Pretty amazing — an almost 1500-word piece on how Alabama changed its defense for the better after 2012 without a single mention of Kirby Smart.

It’s reassuring to know that the brain trust at Georgia saw through the public perception of “it’s Saban’s defense” to get the man they wanted.

To be fair, I doubt the truth on Smart’s role in fashioning the ‘Bama defense is anywhere near that absolute.  I also doubt that anyone at Butts-Mehre who had a hand in hiring Smart had the first clue about how to gauge that.

Blind faith is what makes religion run.  It’s not the best guiding principle for managing a football program, though.


Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

It’s not easy being a control freak.

You know, I don’t doubt this story for a minute.

“Well, the day I landed in Miami and went to the first press conference,” Saban said. “I started to realize the difference between the NFL then and what the NFL was like before when I was in it with Bill Belichick from 1991-94 in Cleveland, before we had free agency, before the media had infiltrated sorta everything that was happening. I guess right then.”

Saban left LSU to coach the Dolphins in 2004. He stayed two seasons before famously leaving for Alabama in January 2007.

There was a second Miami moment that drove him the need for change. The well-documented story of Drew Brees failing his physical with the Dolphins was discussed. Of course Brees went on to win a Super Bowl and Miami signed Daunte Culpepper.

It didn’t work.

“When that happened, I said I can’t control my destiny here,” Saban said. “I can’t control my destiny here. There’s too many things that, no matter how hard I work or no matter what I do, I can control my destiny better in college by working hard and making good choices and decisions and creating a good program for players. I think that happening made me lean back to coming back to college.”

Of course, that makes these denials even more bullshit now than they already were, but what the hey, as long as Saban’s happy it’s all good, right?


Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Nick Saban Rules

‘If you want me, then sign me.’

Nick Saban ain’t happy about the proposed early signing periods.  Nope, not one bit.

On Wednesday the NCAA Division I Council proposed two early signing periods for football, with the first in late June and the second in mid-December.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was quick to voice his opinion Wednesday evening after practice.

“I am absolutely, positively against any kind of early signing date, especially a June signing date before a guy plays his senior year,” Saban said in a news conference. “If we want to have an early signing date after the season, I would be more for that. We’ve moved the recruiting calendar forward, which creates a lot of issues and problems when it comes to evaluations, not only of a player but of his character and his academic status.”

I’m not sure that having sufficient time for character evaluation is a place you should be going, brother.  You had plenty of that to assess Jonathan Taylor’s character, but couldn’t even find the time to speak with folks like the district attorney who handled Taylor’s case… or Mark Richt, for that matter.  But I digress.

Because that’s not really what’s got Saban’s ass chapped here.

“From a high school coach’s standpoint, what is really the guy’s motivation to play and really work hard to get better to play for his team in his senior year?”

Uh, no, that’s not it either, Nick.  Try again.

Saban said the Crimson Tide may not have signed freshman tailback Joshua Jacobs had an early signing period been in place last year. Jacobs, a 5-foot-10, 200-pounder from Tulsa, Okla., played in only six games as a junior at McClain High School due to injury but blossomed as a senior, rushing for 2,704 yards and an eye-popping 15.1 yards per carry.

Jacobs rushed 16 times for 100 yards in last Saturday’s 34-6 win over Kentucky.

“We probably would have been full, and that is what I am talking about,” Saban said. “We would probably make some academic, character and maybe evaluation mistakes, because you aren’t even seeing a guy play during his senior season.

Ah, now we’re getting warmer.  Can’t let those late bloomers fall through the cracks; those missed opportunities can be real killers, amirite?  But let’s face it, people — what school has better resources than Alabama to evaluate players, even early on?

So, it still feels like we’re missing something else here.  What could it be?

The SEC has been one of the most vocal opponents of an early signing period in the past, but a conference coach admitted he has come around to the idea and says he thinks it will even benefit the recruits.

“I love the idea now,” he said. “I think it’ll finally make schools think twice about offering kids early with no plan of taking their commitment. If they really want them, they’re going to have to sign them now. That’ll help a recruit truly tell if they’re wanted by that school… “

Congratulations, Holmes, you’ve cracked the case!  Saban wouldn’t be able to bookmark recruits with things like contingent offers or offers made in a kid’s sophomore season.  Instead, he’d have to spend time convincing rising seniors not to commit elsewhere early, so that he would have the full opportunity to decide whether it’s worth extending a binding offer.  Even for Alabama, that’s a tougher sell.

Figure on plenty more angst to come on how early signing periods are bad for the kids.  After all, that’s how these guys roll.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting, The NCAA

“Some things are worth waiting for.”

It’s always sad when a control freak loses a little control.

A few moments later, host Eli Gold said he didn’t want to mention names, but asked about the current transfer landscape in college football. He asked Saban if it had become like free agency.

“It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think it I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.”

Coming from the guy who bailed on the Miami Dolphins when the going wasn’t to his liking, that’s a bit rich.

But the best part of this is that Blake Barnett, the subject of Saban’s wistful pondering, may have found a loophole in the transfer rules. (h/t)

The assumption from fans, message boards and even national media was that the redshirt freshman would be losing the 2017 season of eligibility regardless of his transfer plans. So, why would he leave now, four games into an undefeated season? With a true freshman starter one hit away from injury, Barnett is still a critical piece of Alabama’s championship equation and he’s being painted as a quitter by critics.

But Barnett has a plan — and it looks a lot like something we’ve seen before in college basketball.

According to bylaw 14.5.6 in the NCAA transfer guide, Barnett as a 4-2-4 transfer (four-year institution, to a junior college, and back to a four-year institution), can be eligible one calendar year from the date of his transfer from Alabama so long as he graduates with a GPA above 2.5 over an average of 12 hours per term at the certifying institution of Barnett’s choosing.

That’s a situation that happens frequently pre- and post-semester. The timing of Barnett’s transfer is what makes him a possible trailblazer: He’d be eligible to play the conference schedule at his next destination.

247Sports reviewed the NCAA transfer guide on Thursday with an FBS compliance source who has first-hand experience and knowledge in placing players from JUCOs, military institutions and other four-year colleges.

“I’ve never seen this situation before first-hand,” the compliance source said. “Because it’s so rare for somebody to leave in the middle of the season.”

It’s worth noting that every person we talk to has slightly different perspectives on the interpretation of this rule. One source with significant experience dealing in junior college transfers believed that Barnett would be eligible immediately in 2017 at a four-year program. Still another source that coaches in the junior college ranks felt that Barnett wouldn’t be able to play at a four-year institution until the 2018 season.

The source who thinks Barnett might have all of 2017 available muses that by leaving Alabama now and arriving at a two-year institution with a mid-term date in mid-October, Barnett would be essentially wiping clean the fall of 2016 at Alabama from his academic record. Consequently, his midterm transfer to a two-year institution would allow him to retroactively start the clock to the beginning of the first semester, thus allowing him to be eligible for the 2017 season with three years remaining to fulfill three years of eligibility.

Honestly, I don’t know if this will work, but you’ve got to admit it’s creative, especially when you consider that he’s leaving a program known under Saban for aggressively pushing the envelope when it comes to NCAA and SEC rules.  If it works, you’d better believe Saban won’t be applauding Barnett’s ingenuity, though.  He’ll be solemnly urging a rule change to shut down future mid-season departures.  It’s in the young men’s best interest, you know.



Filed under Nick Saban Rules, The NCAA

It’s Saban’s world and the SEC is just living in it.

With Les Miles’ firing, Nick Saban is now the senior SEC coach, in terms of years at the current job.  While it’s tempting to react merely by saying what took things so long, the actual data is eye-opening.

Not counting interim guys like Ed Orgeron, who’ll pilot the ship at LSU for the rest of this season, whoever follows Miles full time will be the 22nd SEC head coach introduced since Saban landed in Tuscaloosa.

Now every other current SEC member has changed coaches at least once since Alabama hired Saban in 2007, though Texas A&M did it while still in the Big 12.

Here’s the sobering and staggering part. New doesn’t always equal better. Of all the SEC coaching changes in the Saban era, only two have landed men who went on to win a conference championship.

Both happened at Auburn.

The Tigers won the SEC and BCS titles two years after Gene Chizik replaced Tommy Tuberville, and they won the SEC title and played for the BCS championship the year after Gus Malzahn followed Chizik.

That’s it. That’s the sum total of SEC coaching changes in the Saban era that have led to a conference championship. Two for 21. You can’t fire string-pulling boosters, but that .095 batting average makes you wonder why more ADs and school presidents don’t get whacked.

C’mon, man.  Get real.

That is why you change coaches, right? To win more games and better compete for championships? It hasn’t really turned out that way except at Auburn.

That doesn’t stop ADs, presidents and string-pulling boosters from cutting loose coaches as accomplished as Miles and Mark Richt.

If Saban has changed the equation in the SEC, it’s to make winning itself insufficient at certain programs and put all the emphasis on winning championships. Trouble is, the record shows changing coaches doesn’t mean you’re going to win championships.

Everyone’s gonna look smarter the day after Saban retires.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Since you brought it up…

I noticed a comment yesterday referencing Jim Chaney’s stint at Purdue in a somewhat negative way, so for balance’s sake, here’s something else to tuck under your hat.

That’s a bad ass turtleneck, though.



Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

“Unfortunately, it had to get there for Alabama and Coach Saban.”

Ed Aschoff talked to Maurice Smith after his big game against North Carolina and asked him why it took so long to get from Tuscaloosa to Athens.

Smith, who was pretty candid after Saturday’s win, said Saban’s hesitation to originally release him to Georgia stemmed from concern of Smith sharing Alabama’s defensive playbook from the spring — after Kirby Smart, Alabama’s former defensive coordinator, had already left for Georgia — and in case Alabama played Georgia in the SEC championship…

There’s a fine line between sweating the small stuff and paranoia and the Sabanator blew right past that.  The odds that Smart and Tucker couldn’t figure out Alabama’s defensive playbook from the spring in the dark with their eyes shut tight are slim at best.  (Hell, Schumann probably put most of it together before he left.)  Not to mention if Georgia were indeed to face Alabama in the SECCG, at that point, Smart and staff would have a dozen games’ worth of tape from which to analyze the ‘Bama playbook.

Besides, the idea the Dawgs were chasing Smith so hard had more to do with getting an extra edge on Saban than it did needing to add depth to their defensive backfield looks particularly silly now after Smith’s game Saturday.

It would be interesting to ask about this at the next Saban presser, but I suspect the Coke bottle ain’t talking about it.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules