Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules

“He just believed in his process.”

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.”

Sound familiar?

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.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

USA Today has Alabama on its mind.

I’ve never been the kind of person who cared about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, so can somebody explain to me why I should care about this one way or the other, or what I could possibly do for this to matter to me?

Nothing lasts forever, peeps.  Not even the Sabanator.

30 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

Today, in Nick Saban doesn’t have time for…

… that shit… er, Lane Kiffin.

Saban wouldn’t elaborate on further questioning about the situation. Kiffin said on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” that the “press box would be ideal” when asked whether he would be on the sideline for the game against Clemson. Saban, however, dismissed that notion.

“That’s really not even possible from a legal standpoint for him to do those things,” Saban said. “So that’s not something we’re interested in pursuing.”

“Legal standpoint”?

Shouldn’t give people ideas, Coach.  What are the odds that some Alabama fanatic is out there right now scrambling to get a motion filed asking a court to issue an injunction against Junior attending the national title game?

Personally, I think the Laner would make an excellent addition to ESPN’s pre-game show.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban Rules, Whoa, oh, Alabama

That’s our Laner.

Shorter version:  Nick Saban doesn’t have time for that shit.

As far as Junior goes, he’s compiling one helluva resume.

I really hope to Gawd they cross paths on the recruiting trail.  Soon.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Nick Saban Rules

Alabama, where they mean business about business decisions

Another sign of the genius of Nick Saban — if the reality is that college football is the NFL’s free developmental league, don’t run from that; embrace it.

… Why are highly rated draft prospects at Alabama largely staying for their senior years when the national trend is skewing more toward leaving at the first opportunity given the money and risk factors involved?

… It’s clear that Saban’s advice on whether players should stay or leave is a large part of the equation. Though some could view it cynically and say a coach whose $7 million-a-year salary depends on wins and losses shouldn’t be advising unpaid college players to pass up guaranteed money, Saban approaches it as a value proposition.

And when difference between guaranteed salary for first-round picks and those taken in the second round can be millions of dollars, it’s worth careful consideration for those who have the potential to enhance their stock.

“I think the biggest thing we try to do with our players is we try to get them to make a quality business decision,” Saban said. “You can’t improve your value once you get in the draft. It is what it is, and what a lot of people don’t realize is everybody wants you to come out for the draft, but once you say you’re in the draft every team looks for reasons not to draft you.

“They’re making a significant investment, and they want to make sure they’re getting quality for what they want to invest in, so if guys can improve that as college players, that’s certainly something we would like for them to do and we’ve had a significant number of guys that have done that and come back and improved their draft value. We’ve had guys who have gone out because it was the right thing for them to do and they’ve done extremely well. Every case is different and I think our players, because they’ve seen both sides of this, sort of understand the business side.”

Allen, who received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board last year, is the embodiment of that analysis as ESPN’s Mel Kiper now rates Allen the No. 3 overall player. If he ultimately gets drafted somewhere in that range, Allen’s decision to come back will guarantee him at least $16 million more on his first contract than if he had been an early second-round pick.

The trick isn’t selling your players on the value of staying.  It’s delivering on that message.  How many coaches out there can legitimately do that?

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Coaching against the Death Star

I would really love to hear any SEC athletic director who canned a head football coach over the last two or three seasons coherently explain his plan to win a conference title.  Because “unfathomable” isn’t just a word to describe Alabama’s dominance right now; it’s a way of life.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

“So what is Alabama’s secret?”

You can, if you like, buy into the New York Times’ myth making and chalk it all up to Nick Saban being the college football epitome of Mr. Small Stuff, or you can take the prosaic approach and believe it’s more about the remarkable sums of money Alabama pours into its football program year after year after year.

From the 2014-5 fiscal year, here’s what each school in this year’s college football playoffs spent on football:

  • Alabama:  $48.3 million
  • Clemson:  $27.3 million
  • Ohio State:  $29.2 million
  • Washington:  $29.1 million

That’s a helluva spread, especially when you consider that Ohio State typically generates more athletic department revenue than ‘Bama does.  Ultimately, this is why I have a hard time believing that the importation of the Process into Athens, Georgia is going to be seamless.

Sure, it’s not that UGA doesn’t have the money to compete.  Georgia pulled in $116,151,279 for the same fiscal year, good for 15th nationally.  And if you’re looking for a positive note from that, keep in mind that Jon Solomon has this for you:

Since 2005, no school has won football’s national championship while ranked outside the top 20 in total athletic revenue.

But when it comes to spending money on football, Georgia hasn’t been in the keeping up with the Joneses department, let alone the Sabans.

For starters, check out the football operating expenses, including the cost of scholarships per scholarship football player, for Alabama and Georgia, over the last four seasons data has been reported:

  • 2011:  Alabama — $363,722; Georgia — $275,701
  • 2012:  Alabama — $376,320; Georgia — $279,480
  • 2013:  Alabama — $465,127; Georgia — $318,965
  • 2014:  Alabama — $347,050; Georgia — $293,724

The gap has narrowed between the two programs, but that’s still the financial equivalent of Mark Richt’s roster management snafus.

From 2009-14, Georgia’s football spending per player increased 21%.  That’s less than the SEC median (27%).  It’s also less than the median for all FBS programs (31%).

Now, you can spend money wastefully, of course, and you don’t have to look very far afield for examples of that.  But if you aren’t going to keep up on the spending front, you sure as hell better have the smarts to build a better mousetrap than the expensive one they’ve got in Tuscaloosa if you expect to show up in Atlanta for a conference title game.  That hasn’t been the case for a while now.

Now the obvious caveat here is that we’re two seasons past the data available, and one of those is Smart’s first season in Athens.  It’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see a narrowing of that financial spread when those spending numbers come into view.  What remains to be seen is whether the dollars Butts-Mehre spends are enough to keep up with Saban on the field in the coming years.  A couple of years from now, we should have enough information to assess both.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Nick Saban Rules