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The Legend of Nick Saban Continues

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Nobody can question Nick Saban's unparalleled greatness.

Nick Saban has won five national championships -- only Bear Bryant has more.

Nick Saban is one of less than 20 coaches to have more than 200 wins in college football’s top flight.

Only ten coaches, ever, have more bowl wins than Nick Saban.

Only five active head coaches have been doing the job longer than Nick Saban.

And only three active coaches are older than Nick Saban.

There is an argument to be made, and a good one, that Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach to ever live.

Suffice it to say, he doesn’t have anything left to prove. There’s no obvious motivation to work as hard as one must to maintain the level of success that he has, and the fact that he has is a modern miracle.

“He hates to lose more than he likes winning,” center Bradley Bozeman explained. “He’s a competitor and he wants to do his best every time, and he wants us to do our best every time. If we don’t do our best he feels like it’s his fault, even though it almost never is.”

Star defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick echoed Bozeman’s sentiments.

“When I first got (to Alabama),” Fitzpatrick recounted, “Coach Saban was getting on me really bad and I was getting frustrated, but then I started getting (the hang of the drill) and he was still getting on me. He told me, ‘The reason I’m getting on you is because I know how great you can be’. It kind of showed me why he was so hard on the whole team, because he knows how great we can be.”

Even when greatness is achieved, though, that doesn’t mean any let up from Saban.

“Even after we blow a team out, he’s still standing there on one of those gatorade things in the locker room, cussing at us,” Fitzpatrick laughed. “I’m like ‘man, we just won 56-0’. But that’s how he keeps us from getting complacent.”

Of course, anyone can talk a big game. It works for Alabama because the head man practices what he preaches.

“He’s all about football,” wide receiver Calvin Ridley stated. “Some coaches want to do other things. He just sleeps and thinks about football. And I don’t think he sleeps that much.”

Still, as living legends like Bob Stoops walk away from the game at a, relatively, young age, it begs the question, how does Saban reinvigorate and motivate himself, given his unparalleled success, while his peers fall into contentment.

“I’m just happy that we have the opportunity to do it again, each year,” Saban explained. “The challenges that each upcoming season brings, whether it's rebuilding, or improving your team, the competition that each season presents, I have no problem ever getting excited about the challenges of the season.”

In regards to his appetite for competition, Saban said, “When I go on vacation, I play golf every day. I play a game. I don’t just hit balls. Who’s gonna win here? Rather than go on some golf course and lose a bunch of golf balls I’d rather just stay in the SEC.”

Well, quite frankly, as long as that remains Nick Saban’s attitude, everyone else is just playing for second.
 

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP