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.”
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.