Usually, when a Miami Dolphins fan like myself hears stories about Nick Saban doing or saying something like his recent outburst at the media, we're either shaking our head and moving on or we're commenting on the "See, that's why we don't like him—we knew he was a jerk" aspect of the story.
This time around, though, I kind of saw something different. Would I be considered one of the sportswriters who came away from Alabama's thrashing of Michigan on Saturday Night thinking they were head and shoulders above the rest of the country? Of course I would be. In fact, that's exactly what I was tweeting during the game.
It was the discussion of the weekend wherever I went, even down here in Miami. Do we like Nick Saban? Of course not, but we have grown to respect him because, let's face it: He's the best coach in college football, and that's not even up for debate at this point.
But part of what makes Saban the best coach in football is his well-documented single-minded approach to the game. Football is his business, period. He won't even give you the courtesy to lie about outside hobbies.
It's very odd that while we know plenty about some of the most famous coaches of all time, all we know about Saban is his resume, the fact that he was a lunch break away from being in the crowd the National Guard shot at during the Kent State Massacre, his charitable contributions and his preference for Little Debby Oatmeal Cream Pies.
He prefers it that way, and I can't blame him for that. He's a football coach first, and he wants his players to display the same football-first attitude. He's not going to pretend to be the nicest guy in the world to the media, yet the players that play for him swear by him. He's rude, he's defiant and, at times, he comes off a little (or a lot) politically incorrect. He doesn't care; only football matters when he's at work.
Of course, the media's job is to find out more. They have to speculate and find stories. Saban isn't going to give anyone a story, but when he does, it's about how aloof he is or how rude he treated a reporter. This time around, he came off as a genius.
Look at the outrage from everyone over his latest press conference. Look at Gregg Doyell (an agenda-seeking writer who seems to have a penchant for going after figures already despised by a great number of people) calling Nick Saban out for "being a bully." Look at the reactions to his outburst on Twitter. This outburst wasn't even among his worst.
Why did Saban lash out again? Because he felt the hype and the talk about how good this Alabama team is (possibly ready to join the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers and 2001 Miami Hurricanes as the greatest college football teams, at least of my lifetime) could distract his players and make them complacent. He felt Western Kentucky wasn't getting the proper respect from the media, and he wanted the media to do "a little bit of research."
Now, instead of talking about how great this team could potentially be, we're back to the tried and true story of "Nick Saban is such a jerk." Instead of talking about how Alabama will beat WKU by at least 30, we're talking about "How dare he get upset!"
That likely wasn't Saban's only goal. I'm sure part of this press conference wasn't so much to lash out at the media, but to send a message to his players—don't underestimate anyone; nothing is guaranteed.
Nick Saban got what he wanted, and at the same time showed why he is the best coach in college football. Love him or hate him, you have to admit that it was a shrewd, cold and calculated defensive move.
Just like you see from the Tide defense every Saturday.
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