Najee Harris Left Alabama For 2 Weeks Because Nick Saban Was ‘Belittling’ Him

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Nick Saban may be the G.O.A.T, but not all his players were the greatest of fans all the time.

On Tuesday, former Alabama running back Najee Harris took a few shots at Saban on “The Pivot” podcast with former NFL players Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor.

“I can take coaching, but, like, it’s just a certain type of line when you cross, ‘You ain’t going to (f-ing) talk to me like that,” said Harris, who is about to enter his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Don’t think you’re more than a coach to me. Don’t try to belittle me. I felt like I was belittled.”

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – JANUARY 11: Najee Harris #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes ahead of Tuf Borland #32 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third quarter of the College Football Playoff National Championship game at Hard Rock Stadium on January 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Harris was Saban’s featured back in 2019 and ’20, gaining 2,690 yards over those two seasons. He gained 1,466 yards on 251 carries in 2020 when the Tide won the national championship with a 13-0 record. One of the very top recruits in the nation in 2017 out of Antioch High School in the San Francisco area, Harris became Alabama’s all-time career leading rusher in 2020 with 3,843 yards over four seasons, surpassing Derrick Henry’s 3,591 from 2013-15.

But Harris got fed up with Saban in that last season.

“Last incident happened, and I left school,” he said. “I left school for like two weeks. People didn’t know that. I left school for like two weeks, and then Saban sat me in his office.”

Harris said the two cleared the air.

“Ever since that day, we were rock solid,” he said.

Harris gained 370 yards in his freshman season in 2017 when Alabama won the national title. He was a backup again in 2018, gaining 783 yards.

The Steelers took him with the 24th pick of the first round in 2021. He gained 1,200 yards on 307 carries last season.

Harris has been complimentary of Saban in other interviews. He recently praised Saban for teaching him how to pass block.

“At Alabama, that was something that Saban always emphasized a lot – how important it is in the NFL to have a running back who can pass block,” he said.”

In another interview he said, “Saban has his moments.”

But he added that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is “more hip.”

Tomlin is 50. Saban is 70.

“He’s a little more newer school,” Harris said of Tomlin.

Interestingly, Clark played for Saban at LSU in 2000 and 2001 when Saban was age 49 and 50.

“Nick Saban is the coolest 50-year-old man I know,” Clark said when he was at LSU.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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