If you’ve ever seen Nick Saban on a sideline or a practice field or at a press conference, you’ll notice he has a tendency to yell.
Saban’s snarling demeanor may rub some people the wrong way, but you can’t argue with the results: The guy’s won five national titles. So if a player can’t handle getting yelled at, well, Alabama may not be the right fit.
Because Saban, 65, ain’t changing.
“No one should be offended,” Saban said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “If everybody’s goal is to be the best, to win, and get everybody in the organization being the best version of themselves, then everybody should want to do what they have to do to be able to do that. They shouldn’t be offended if they’re corrected. I’ve told coaches before if I correct them, they get all upset, but they dog-cuss their players like it’s nothing. I’m saying, ‘I don’t think you could play for yourself.’”
Saban was asked if he could play for himself.
“Yeah,” he said. “I could play for me.”
Saban is often compared to Bill Belichick, another stone-faced 65-year-old with five championships. Neither coach has a happy-go-lucky persona, but the public, Saban said, doesn’t have a firm grasp on who they are as people.
“I don’t think Bill’s been unhappy in his life,” Saban said. “If you know him well and you know him behind the scenes, I think the image you project to the public – for probably strategic reasons – (is) maybe a little bit different than the person inside. So I’ve never, ever known Bill or been concerned about Bill being unhappy. I think he’s very serious about what he does. He’s pretty intense about trying to get it the way he wants it, and he’s been real successful at doing that. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Now the image sometimes that it projects leads people like you all to think that the guy’s some kind of Attila the Hun or something, but he isn’t like that at all. I’m not really like you all think, either.”
Brian Jones asked Saban what he’s really like.
“Well,” Saban said in a coy tone, “you have to come and find out.”
But how much time and access would Saban allow?
“Well, just a little bit,” Saban said, prompting laughter from Gio and Jones. “I try to treat people right and respect them. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what everybody else thinks. If I think I’m doing the right thing and being fair and honest, maybe they just don’t understand.”
While Saban doesn’t figure to change, he did discuss changes he would like to see in college football, particularly in terms of scheduling. He believes that Power Five programs should only play Power Five programs.
“I think that it would actually give us a better opportunity to determine who the best teams were,” Saban said. “It’s really hard to determine the competitive balance between one conference and another. The assumption is they’re all the same, and that’s probably not exactly right. Strength of schedule has huge deviation in college football right now, and I don’t know how you can sort of calibrate that effectively and correctly.”
Saban doesn’t think that one loss – or even two – should automatically eliminate a team from the College Football Playoff.
“The Giants lost six games a few years ago and won the Super Bowl,” he said. “If you play better competition all the time, I think players would be more interested.”
Still, Saban knows it’s unlikely that his idea will ever come to fruition.
“Look, it’s not worth talking about,” he said, “because nobody’s ever going to do it.”
Alabama, which has made the College Football Playoff every year of its three-year existence, opens the season against Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET.