We're living in strange times these days.
Nick Saban is telling reporters, "I've mellowed a lot," and I find this a little disturbing as I had grown quite comfortable with the ornery ol' Nick that I encountered in LSU post-game locker rooms several years ago.
“What happens to everybody else has nothing to do with us, understand ?” Saban would snap at us reporters, and although I thought he was an a*#hole, I would laugh good-naturedly with the others and smile and say things like, "that's just Nick being Nick."
“I don't think you want me to say what I think about that,” he would sometimes say with a hateful glare. And we would all laugh together. He would never laugh. And I would mutter under my breath, "what an a*#hole," but, nevertheless, times were good and the team was winning and how could you not be in a good mood as you stood on the sideline and watched Joseph Addai turn the corner like a freight train on the Alabama defense.
Yeah, those were good times indeed, and after the post-game press conference I would leave the locker room and join some fellow tailgaters to eat barbecue at midnight in the shadows of Tiger Stadium and tell them how rude Nick was. They all would laugh and I would laugh with them, and suddenly I didn't feel as bad about being part of a group of people Nick Saban despised.
I could drive away from the stadium in a damned good mood and laugh to myself about good ol' Nick.
I read in a self-help book recently, Success in Sixty Days, that disagreeable sorts as a group are much more financially successfully than their nice-guy colleagues. (So I decided to chew out the secretary about the coffee being too strong although it's been years since I had a cup.)
A former colleague of mine played for both Saban and Les Miles at LSU, and he told me that the players "feared" Saban. He said this with a trace of a smile on his face as if it was a "badge of honor." By contrast, he said Miles and his staff were feared by no one on the team—almost a country club he said—and that Miles and his assistants couldn't hold a candle to Saban and his staff in the X's and O's department.
Now, Nick Saban is telling us that he was never that bad of a guy after all.
He says he has always been pretty happy and pretty easygoing.
He is even getting in touch with his feelings and saying that part of his misunderstood sternness was all the anxiety he was feeling as a young coach and that he has mellowed a lot, and he will try from now on to be respectful and compassionate. If anyone is to blame for his grumpy image it's those bastards in the media.
He even went as far as admitting to Sporting News that he made a mistake by not signing Drew Brees: "We (the Miami Dolphins) had an opportunity to get Drew Brees or Daunte Culpepper and probably missed out on the physical well-being of those two players; we took the guy we felt was more healthy, and he (Culpepper) wasn't healthy. Drew Brees didn't have any (health) problems and ended up having a great career. Had that been different, I think we'd have made our team a lot better."
In all candor, this new touchy-feely Saban makes me uneasy and I can not help look but look back fondly on the days when he hated all of us with his whole heart and soul.