It doesn’t get more intense than Nick Saban on Gameday. Before and after his team’s competitions, you might see him a few times: his pre-match interview with ESPN, his Walk of Champions, and his post-match press conference. Throughout, Saban is still focused on getting the job done, but there’s a moment of agility from a very serious trainer that you can spot just minutes before Tide takes off.
We have seen Saban break up many times, not to suggest that man is incapable of experiencing joy. Alabama fans know better than anyone else, Coach is a very funny guy via his weekly radio show or annual lake parties or funny microphone clips. It’s just when it’s time to put sanitary pads on for games or improve training that he dials in intensity.
But over the years, we’ve put together several pre-match photos of Saban seemingly in his most accessible moments before kickoff, when everything is on the line on his show. Focus on midfield as Saban seems really happy to have a short chat with another head coach and usually shares with a big smile on that day’s opponent. Saban seems more relaxed to him during those conversations, even when he’s with a perceived opponent or the coach of a “cupcake” team. Peek at two head coaches sharing experience leading their teams to competition after a week of preparation. Maybe he just loves talking ball with someone who does what he does, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Before the 2021 Alabama-Ole Miss game, Lin Kevin gave Paul Feinbaum And the world of college football watching an explanation of what is actually said during meetings on the field and before the game and greetings between coaches. “They are really irrelevant,” Kevin said of his pre-match conversations with the opposing coaches. “They are both game ready. It’s really just a tradition they have.
He said of his conversations with Saban: “Go in there and he’ll say, ‘Hello.'” Talking about the weather. How’s it going? (I will ask) How is Miss Terry? That’s it.” He continued, “I mean what do people really think we’re talking there? “Hey, we’re really going to work on your safety with some double-whammy today.” I mean, there’s not much to say.”
In the gallery above or the photos below, take a look at photos that document the celebrity-focused trainer taking a moment to relax and enjoy what he and his contemporaries do for a living.
For starters, we’ve already seen this from Saban in 2022, with opposing coaches like Steve Sarkisian (his former assistant) of Texas, or Terry Bowden of Louisiana Monroe.
He might have a hundred cameras on him at all times on game day, but Saban managed to break free before kickoff, even with former assistant and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. The two privately exchanged views on how the NIL affects employment, with Fisher is especially hotBut all of them insist It’s water under the bridge. We will be looking for a similar friendly on October 8, when both teams visit Bryant Denny Stadium.
Who wouldn’t share a laugh with Lynn Kevin, former Saban offensive coordinator and new contender at SEC West? As previously mentioned, Kevin insists the coaches don’t discuss anything particularly important during the pre-match meeting, but what makes Nick Saban break down like this is? Just maybe Kiffin, one of the funniest characters in college football.
Even Saban’s biggest “rivals” paint a rare sparkle in their eyes, with coaches like Gus Malzahn, Gene Chizik, Les Miles, Hugh Freeze and Ed Orgeron laughing with the famous coach.
He doesn’t seem to bother Saban if and when another coach gets his best on the field, the way Dabo Sweeney did (twice) at Clemson’s biggest party or Kevin Sumlin when he brought Johnny Football to Bryant Denny. .
What is really on display is the level of respect that Saban and his rival coaches have for each other, no matter what his resume. The coaches have a lot in common and can share stories for days, each knowing what the others are experiencing on a daily basis in building a program and leading a group of young people through critical periods of their lives. But you see Saban’s respect for coaches like David Cutcliffe, Frank Beamer and Marc Richt. Or the joy it might feel to compete against former assistants like Jim McElwain and Will Muschamp. Or the parallels he can draw with leaders of smaller programs like Mark Speer in Western Carolina (or Terry Bowden in Louisiana Monroe above).