The Media and Their Foes

Ben LancasterCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2008

It was said best in Aretha Franklin's 1960's hit song "Respect." "R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me..."
This song defines what coaches these days would love to earn, RESPECT. But how exactly does one earn respect? Is it winning? Is it the high demands he/she puts on their team that earns them respect? Or perhaps, is it the media that helps a coach earn it? whether they mean to or not OR whether they like him/her or not.
You know when a coach has this respect when he walks into a room and everyone and everything stops what he or she is doing and focus's on the this person's presence. This coach does not even have to be speaking, the sheer presence awes everyone in the room.
From the good ol' days you have John Wooden, Tommy Lasorda, Paul "Bear" Bryant and Vince Lombardi and some coaches of today that have accumulated great respect are Bill Belichick and Nick Saban.

Here is an example of the respect I speak of. Lombardi was asked after the 1966 Super Bowl, what it felt like to be the greatest football team in the world and he replied.
"I don't know, we haven't played Alabama yet."

These are the kinds of people I am talking about when I say the word "Respect."
Call me crazy, but one man that really sticks out to me in all sports right now is Nick Saban. Not only is he, obviously, respected in the Alabama media, but also in the national media as well. Often he is criticized for things he does or says, whether he is deserving of it or not, but people still stand in awe when he enters a room. Not to be all Alabama, but he reminds me a lot of how Paul "Bear" Bryant was heralded by the national media, from what footage I have seen (because I missed him by 3 years). Bryant was looked at in amazement and the ultimate respect when he entered a room or was just interviewed by a sideline reporter. Bryant demanded excellence from his players and staff at all times. He did not care what people thought or said about the way he handled things, he did them his way and moved on.

With that said, like Bryant, Saban is all business all the time. Despite not being liked by most of the national media Saban is still respected by all. There is something about the man that hushes the crowd and that captures the attention of his listeners. He handles the media almost just like Bryant did
It was at SEC media days this year that the "Respect" people have for Nick Saban came to fruition. As coach after coach rolled in the different rooms it was said, by a Baton Rouge reporter, that people were talking and carrying on as coaches gave their spills, some people even on cell phones. But as Coach Saban walked through the doors everyone stopped what they were doing to set their eyes on him like a god. Silence swept over the room and you could almost hear what he was thinking it was so quiet. People hung on to every word like it was the last.

With all that said, this "Respect" that I speak of that people have for coaches and in this case for Nick Saban is obviously not based on wins, unless you consider a 7-6 record with a loss to a lowly Louisiana-Monroe team, a great accomplishment.
Like Wooden, Bryant, Lasorda, Lombardi, and Belichick; Saban earns this "Respect" by placing high demands on himself and on his team. Taking a "No prisoners approach" to how he does things is what wins over respect. We try to get in the minds of these great coaches, past and present, but I think it is the mystery that these men have about them that makes them so intriguing. No matter how hard we try the minds and philosophies of the coaches are closed like a steel trap and we are never getting in....just like their practices.