Saban Returns to The University of Alabama Football Team with New Spurs

Saban Returns to The University of Alabama Football Team with New Spurs

What did Saban do the Next 24 Hours After the 24-Hour Celebration with The University of Alabama Football Team?


Fresh from the Gatorade bath in Phoenix, Arizona where he coached The University of Alabama football team to its sixteenth national championship, Nick Saban gave compliments to his opponent, high praise for his players and appeared to experience genuine joy for their victory.  With metallic gold streamers falling around his team and a beaming Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry, lovingly giving his coach a rub on the shoulders, Coach Saban, like he did after his championship games in 2009, 2011 and 2012, told reporters that he has a “24-Hour Rule” for celebrating.  But celebrations don’t actually last 24 hours for the coach driven more now, at 64 years young, than ever we’ve seen in recent years.


So what did the next 24 hours look like for Coach Saban?


When his feet hit the ground in Tuscaloosa, was his immediate attention, thwarting the three-peat?  How can Coach Saban, his staff and the University of Alabama Football Team counterattack the Landsharks of Ole Miss and prevent Hughe Freeze from becoming the only coach to defeat Nick Saban three years in a row?

You’re probably thinking, “There’s no way that’s the first order of business, because that game is the third game, September 17, so there are two games to prepare for first.  Right?”

No.  Not necessarily.

In his acceptance speech the day after Mal Moore escorted Saban from Miami back to Tuscaloosa, Coach Saban said,


“We have an opponent in this state that we work every day 365 days a year, aight, to dominate.”


Of course he was specifically speaking of Auburn, which at that time Alabama feared the thumb and lost five straight Iron Bowls.  But year-round spurs are not reserved for Auburn.  Other nemeses get special attention like Urban Meyer the year after the Florida Gators kept Alabama out of the national title game with a 31 – 20 fourth quarter Tebo comeback in the SEC Championship, Alabama Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram said they work on Florida every day.  Apparently effective, The University of Alabama football team ran through the Gators at the Georgia Dome leading on the scoreboard in all four quarters, 32 – 13, then straight to its 2009 national title.

Since Hughe Freeze joined an exclusive club that’s only members were Les Miles and Steve Spurrier, the only coaches to have defeated Saban two years in a row in his SEC career, game-planning Ole Miss early and often is likely a spur in the process for the 2016 season.

When Ole Miss won in Oxford, October 4, 2014, in a close one, 23 – 17, and Alabama’s star running back Kenyon Drake out of the game in the second half with a broken leg, no one gave them much chance to repeat that the following year in front of Alabama’s 100 thousand home field fans.

But Ole Miss came into the game, September 19, 2015, undefeated, with a lot of swagger, confidence and magical powder-blue helmets and did it again, 47 – 43.


After the game, Ole Miss junior wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell had this to say,


“We won this game last year, we had confidence we could do it again.”


Treadwell elected to leave school early to go into the NFL Draft and is predicted to be an early pick, but even without him, why wouldn’t Ole Miss have this same attitude this year, back on their home field?


After that game Sporting News Writer, Matt Hayes wrote this:


“There’s no greater indicator of a lost dynasty, no more prominent red flag, than ignoring the obvious: this is not the same Alabama program of years gone by.”


So maybe Saban’s first thought after the national championship game was, “How do you like me now?”

Nah,  doubtful of a man always focused forward.


When his feet hit the floor the next day did Coach Saban immediately think, “Is it going to be harder to win without Kirby or harder to beat Georgia with him?”

Is his first action item to smooth out his defense coaching staff that is disheveled with the exit of Kirby Smart to Georgia who also took with him Mel Tucker, the defensive backs coach?


Is Saban looking in that mirror and asking, “Can we get back here this year without Kirby Smart?”


The University of Alabama football team is welcoming back and re-introducing Jeremy Pruitt to the defense as Smart’s replacement.  Saban must decide whether to replace Mel Tucker or let Coach Pruitt also coach the defensive backs.  Pruitt served as both defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Florida State one year, its 2013 national championship year, and coached the DB’s at Alabama during the previous national championship runs under Kirby Smart.  He was defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Georgia in 2014 and 2015.  So Jeremy and Kirby and Mel may pass each other on Interstate I-20 with their moving vans.


Were Saban’s thoughts not on the difficulty filling of Smarts shoes, but in competing with Smart at Georgia?


Saban seems to have little trouble putting his former staff members in the win column when he goes up against them as head coaches.  Just ask Alabama’s former Offensive coordinator, second-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain who found out the hard way in the SEC Championship this year, 29 – 15, or Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio, trounced, 38 – 0, in the College Football Playoff.  Will Muschamp also unable to beat his former boss as head coach at Florida or defensive coordinator at Texas or Auburn.

So why would Smart be any different?

More time with the master, that’s why.

Smart helped Saban win all five of his national titles at LSU and Alabama plus the short stint in the NFL in between.  He worked for Nick Saban for eleven years, twice the time of any other Saban disciple.  If Kirby doesn’t have the secrets of the process or a semblance of it, nobody does.  When you’re hired to replace a coach with the fifth highest winning percentage of any active FBS coach who consistently won nearly 10 games per year and had highly ranked recruiting classes, expectations are possibly unfeasibly elevated for the first-time-head-coach Bulldawg replacing fifteen-year Coach Mark Richt.

Running around the recruiting trail for UGA, while coaching The University of Alabama football in the College Football Playoff, Smart managed to assemble the fifth ranked recruiting class for Georgia (so far) and coach Alabama’s defense to its fourth national championship during his tenure with the Tide.  After the game, Coach Smart told reporters that he had a four-hour rule for celebrating.

Already trying to one-up Saban.


Was Saban’s next 24 hours spent catching up on recruiting?


In previous years Coach Saban complained that coaching a team to the national championship takes a lot of time away from recruiting.  Of course he admits that being in the title games are good for recruiting.  This all falls on deaf ears of football fans and media who just have a hard time feeling sorry for the coach who dominates the recruiting trail and brought in the number one recruiting class nearly every year he’s Coached in Crimson.  Right now, Alabama’s recruiting falls short of Saban’s consistent standard ranked at number eight, which is three spots below Georgia.


Was the next 24 hours invested in the season opener?


Maybe after his first cup of coffee and Little Debbie, the coach focused on the game plan for the big season opener with Pack 12 powerhouse, USC Trojans.  Southern Cal faces off The Tide in Jerry World, led by Coach Clay Helton in his first year as head coach of the Trojans.  Helton was head coach at Duke, Memphis and Houston, before being hired as quarterbacks coach in 2010 by USC head coach, guess who, Lane Kiffin.  Helton worked his way up the ranks to offensive coordinator and this year named head coach for the Trojans.

Helton’s first order of the day was to hire a new Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast who worked there in 2013 where he too crossed paths with Lane Kiffin who was in his final year USC head coach.

Does USC have playmakers?


USC’s recruiting the past four years is similar to Clemson’s.

Highly ranked recruiting classes for the past five years, ranked number two last year and from thirteenth to as high as third the other four years play for the USC team that will challenge the reining national champions in the opening weekend of the 2016 college football season.

USC finished the 2015 season unranked and with an 8 – 6 record.  USA Today’s super early 2016 pre-season rankings have USC at number 25.  Both The Tide and Trojans will have to be determined first-year quarterbacks, September 3, in Arlington, TX.


Perhaps his first order of the first 24 hours was to start convincing his 2016 team that they haven’t accomplished a thing.


The same obstacle, which stood between him and even more national titles, every year that followed them stares him down now.  After three failed attempts, finally in 2012, Saban became only the fifteenth FBS coach to win back-to-back national titles.  If he did it again this year, he would be in an elite club of only three to have two back-to-back runs, Minnesota Coach Bernie Bierman 1934 – 1936 and 1940 – 1941, and Alabama Coach Paul Bryant Paul Bryant 1964 – 1965 and 1978 – 1979.

All eight classes of student athletes that Coach Saban recruited to The Capstone won a national championship.  No Saban team in his career as a football coach has been more at risk of entitlementitis than this one.

Nobody spins losses into fuel better than Saban, but creating adversity where none exists is a challenge.  If his 2016 team will reside in the same neighborhood of the 2015 champions, Coach Saban has a colossal challenge to hurdle this year.


When Nick Saban returned home from the national title game, imagine him stopping by the Paul W. Bryant Museum, alone.  He enters the building and leaves the lights in the off position, using only the light from a small flashlight to walk through room by room filled with twenty-five years of beloved “Bear” Bryant memorabilia.  He looks around to see that no one followed him and walks up to a miniature statue of Coach Bryant inconspicuously sitting on a shelf.  He touches the statue and presses a secret button on the back of Bryant’s head.  This secret was passed down to Coach Saban by Mal Moore who told Saban to use it sparingly and only press the button when he needs it the most.

Just then, a small section of the wall opens slowly to reveal a room known only to Saban.  He enters the room, passes by the desk where a lie detector machine rests and walks up to a creepy collage of photos of Urban Meyer, Hughe Freeze, Les Miles, Bob Stoops and Gus Malzahn on the walls.  Saban then removes one of the pictures to reveal a safe behind it.  He uses a secret combination to unlock the safe and open the door.  In the safe, a single piece of paper, “There it is! – The Process –  The key to our 2016 football season!”  Saban thinks to himself.  He picks it up and reads the only two words written there.


“Eradicate entitlement.”



Coach Saban First 24-Hours after the Clemson Game

  Took a phone call from President Obama who congratulated the coach and The University of Alabama football team on the victory in Phoenix and 2015 Championship season.  



Nick and Miss Terry jammed to their favorite celebration music, The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter.”


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