Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Building a familial bond is the secret to Saban’s success

CW Archive
Nick Saban during the SEC Championship game against Georgia on Dec. 4, 2021 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.

It’s no secret The University of Alabama’s football team is one of the best in the country. Head coach Nick Saban and his coaching staff value discipline, responsibility, work ethic and attention to detail, but the family-like dynamic seen between each player and the coaching staff may be the secret to success. 

Year after year, during the summer, Saban hosts a lake day full of fun, with water sports and activities for his leadership groups and players at his private Lake Tuscaloosa home. Saban is able to bring his team together off the field, which ultimately brings the team benefits on the field. 

When building a team that continually competes in championship games, it’s tempting to focus on just the sport. But Saban has made it clear that these off-field components are just as important.  

“Our philosophy is that we’re going to create more value for them personally, academically and athletically,” Saban said during Hey Coach last year. “That’s the reason you go to college.”  

For Saban, developing his players and encouraging team building means inviting them to his lake house.  

“I feel like I’m away from football when I’m here,” Saban said in an interview at his lake house. “I don’t get away from it completely like it doesn’t exist. I know for a couple hours, I can get back to it, but the rest of the time my mind is completely clear of it. The level of relaxation is so healthy for me.” 

Between Saban’s lake days, hosting players on Thanksgiving, and get-togethers for recruits and their families at his home [where he’s been known to dance the Cupid Shuffle], Alabama football is more than just a title-winning team. It’s a family.   

The family dynamic extends even outside a player’s career at Alabama, and Saban said that he loves having former players return.  

“They all really like to come back,” Saban said. “We welcome them with open arms when they come back. I think they appreciate all the people on the team here. There’s a lot of folks here who help our players become successful.” 

Former players have been known to come back and help grow the program, like Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Julio Jones last year. Saban said that when Jones saw a current player behaving rudely on the field, he corrected him, saying, “That’s not the way we do it here.” 

The family dynamic that current and former players take part in enforces a standard of excellence. Together, these elements could be called the backbone of Saban’s philosophy.  

“The players that played before you, no matter when they played, they have an expectation because they created a standard, a standard of excellence, whether it was the effort that they played with, the character that they played with, the competitive nature that they played with,” Saban said at Hey Coach. “No matter what, there’s an expectation for how you’re supposed to represent this institution and how you’re supposed to represent them.”  

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