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Nick Saban’s next challenge?  Dominate the NIL era with the same winning culture

Alabama coach Nick Saban turns 70 this year and has signed an extension that will run until the 2028 season.

Saban became the second-oldest head coach of the FBS behind Mack Brown of North Carolina, who is two months older, when Frank Solich retired to Ohio last week. Saban was asked what the main factor behind this longevity is during SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

“It’s simple,” Saban replied. “You have to win. What does it take to win? That answers the question better than anything. I think you have to have a culture in your organization.”

“Culture” remains the perennial buzzword of media days on FBS; a phrase that almost all coaches use to describe what they are trying to build. Saban, however, thinks what he says.

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Culture is established in Tuscaloosa. That’s why fans waited in the parking lot to greet Saban at the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham just to receive a two-second nod from the head coach. That’s why Alabama has won six national championships since 2007. That’s why Alabama can still look forward to another national championship despite losing six first-round picks and 10 players in the draft. NFL 2021 arguably the greatest college football team of all time.

“Nothing has really changed culturally for us,” Saban said. “We want to help our players be more successful in life because they are involved in the program.”

This is also why Saban will be able to adapt and adapt to the new world order of college football which includes name, image and likeness. It’s the next test for Saban, and perhaps one reason he said new quarterback Bryce Young was approaching “seven digits” in the NIL deals before taking his first snap as a starter.

Talk about showing value.

“All we have done is create an opportunity for the players to work,” said Saban. “The only question is because it won’t be equal – and everything we’ve done in varsity athletics in the past has always been equal; everyone has had the same scholarships and the same opportunities – now it doesn’t. probably won’t.

“I really can’t answer the impact this will have on your team, our team, the players on the team,” he said. “We have no precedent for this.”

There’s Saban’s next challenge. Will Alabama dominate the NIL era as it did the BCS era in the past and the college football playoff era in the present?

Saban adjusted to the BCS era between stops at Michigan State, LSU and Alabama. He compiled a 135-42 record from 1998 to 2013 with four SEC championships and four national titles. Most coaches could retire on this legacy and be considered an all-time great.

The difference is that Saban erased the era of the PCP. Alabama is 91-8 with five SEC championships and three national titles since 2014. Ohio State (82-9) is the only other program with a winning percentage over 90%.

In 2020, the Crimson Tide went through a COVID-19 impacted season where Saban missed the Iron Bowl after testing positive. Alabama finished 13-0, averaging 48.5 points per game with arguably their most individually decorated team of all time. It may have been the best adaptation to date under Saban, but it also leaves a new challenge for 2021.

“It’s a penalty for success,” said Saban. “You had a lot of good players, good coaches. We lost six first-round picks, 10 guys in the draft and a few coaches. You have to rebuild with new players who have less experience.”

Next, Saban used a phrase that isn’t often used to describe Alabama.

“We will be a work in progress,” he said.

It’s almost as if Saban wants it that way. New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien replaces Steve Sarkisian, who took the job in Texas. Young calls first-round pick Mac Jones for quarterback, and that comes with “seven-figure” pressure. The Crimson Tide is still teeming with four- and five-star talent, and that will be tested in the opener against Miami, a school that jumped headfirst into the NILE seeking to regain its past glory.

“So far I’m happy with the way our players have taken on their new roles and responsibilities and how the new faces of our squad have worked hard to develop so that they can have consistent performance to succeed, “mentioned.

In other words, “The Process” evolves. As long as Saban continues to recruit and develop NFL first-round talent, those standards won’t change. The transfer portal, NIL and the talk about a 12-team college football playoff are just the next set of challenges for Saban, who made it clear that “90 percent” of Alabama players were vaccinated before the season.

The 2020 season was unprecedented. The same could be said for 2021. How will Saban adapt?

“We want to focus on what we need to do to adapt to the day-to-day and try to help our players to best deal with these opportunities and circumstances,” said Saban.

And win, of course. It is that simple.





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