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Najee Harris Recalls Clashes with Nick Saban at Alabama: 'Felt Like I Was Belittled'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 16, 2022

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The Alabama Crimson Tide won two national championships during Najee Harris' collegiate career, but it wasn't always smooth sailing for the running back.

During a discussion on The Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor (h/t TMZ Sports), Harris explained that he and head coach Nick Saban "did not get along at first" and consistently "bumped heads."

"I'm not the type of dude to just sit back and just let somebody talk to me in a way and not expect me to say something," he said. "I can take coaching, but, like, it's just a certain type of line when you cross, it's like 'All right, bro, I'm a man, you ain't gon' f--king talk to me like that.'"

He also added that he felt "belittled" at times and even left campus following an incident that happened ahead of his final season.

"Last incident happened and I left school," Harris said. "... I left school for like two weeks—people didn't know that. I left school for like two weeks and then Saban sat me in his office."

That meeting was apparently a turning point in their relationship, with the running back saying "ever since that day, we was rock solid."

Harris appeared in 13 games for the Crimson Tide in 2020 and finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting with 1,466 rushing yards, 425 receiving yards and 30 total touchdowns. His teammate, DeVonta Smith, won the Heisman, and Alabama went on to defeat Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

The Crimson Tide also won the title when Harris was a freshman in 2017 and lost to Clemson in the title game to end his sophomore campaign.

Saban is arguably the greatest coach in college football history and has a 183-25 record in 15 seasons with Alabama. He also has six national championships and has coached a number of players who have made their mark in the NFL, including Harris.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Harris with a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and he tallied 1,200 rushing yards, 467 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns as a rookie.

While Harris chases a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh, Saban's Alabama squad is once again well-positioned to pursue a title at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

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