Nick Saban Loves All These Dour Predictions That His Dynasty Is Done | Guilbeau

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Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s summer of love continued at the SEC Media Days in Nashville last week, sort of.

First, a rare and wonderful vacation for he and his wife Terry in Italy, where he let his hair (pieces) down (just kidding) last month. Then a week of stories and columns in Nashville about how his Alabama dynasty is done or nearing the end.

It can’t get any better for the negatively motivated mastermind of college football, like no other.

Saban, who will be 72 on Halloween, will not be complaining about “rat poison” much this season, according to preseason expectations. Alabama was not picked to win the Southeastern Conference title at SEC Media Days on Friday for the first time since 2015 when Auburn got the nod. Seven straight times the media picked Alabama and nine of the last 10 before Friday.

Since Saban became coach in 2007, the SEC Media Days tabbed Alabama as the champion 11 times out of a possible 16.

Georgia finally received the No. 1 vote, only after winning back-to-back national championships. Even in Atlanta in 2022, the SEC Media Days voters considered the Bulldogs’ 2021 title as somewhat of a fluke and went with the Tide.

This year, Georgia won in convincing fashion with 265 first place votes to 165 and 2,011 total voting points to 1,899 by Alabama. The Tide only won the SEC West vote by a narrow margin – 1,899 to 1838 over upstart LSU, which drew 117 votes to win the SEC outright.

Rat Poison Will Not Be Rampant Around Alabama

Unless, Alabama somehow beats Tennessee on Oct. 21 and LSU on Nov. 4 to go to 9-0, then struggles to win at Kentucky the next week as the No. 1 team, Saban will not have to scold the media for writing too nicely about his team.

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Alabama and football coach Nick Saban (center) may be facing a rare “rebuilding” year in 2023 with question marks at quarterback and a young, unproven new offensive coordinator. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

This is a man who once complained about how being in the national championship game so late in January hurt his recruiting back when the only signing day was in early February.

Coaches, like Kirby Smart, usually whine about negative coverage. Saban complains about positive stories.

Nick Saban Gets Tired Of Overly Positive Coverage

This happened on Oct. 7, 2017, after Saban’s No. 1 Tide only beat unranked Texas A&M, 27-19. Alabama (6-0) had beat its previous five opponents by an average of 46-8. The Tide was coming off three straight College Football Playoff appearances at this time – losing in the semis in 2014 to Ohio State, beating Clemson for the national title in 2015 and losing the national title to Clemson by four points the previous year.

So the native media was used to the Tide rolling right along.

When someone asked Saban why the offense sputtered around on three of four possessions at one point in the first half, he incrementally lost it.


“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me, instead of listening to you guys,” Saban said, playing to the camera. “You know all that stuff you write about how good we are? And all that stuff they hear on ESPN? It’s like poison. You know what I mean? It’s like taking poison, Like RAT poison. All right, so I’m asking them, ‘Are you going to listen to me? Or are you going to listen to these guys about how good you are?'”

Alabama finished 13-1 in the 2017 season with another national championship as Saban beat Complacency for another national title.

Alabama Not The Preseason Darling, And Nick Saban Approves

This year, Saban will gladly try to spoon feed his team confidence, whether it is processed food or not. What a refreshing change of pace this will be for Saban. It will be like a vacation. I can hear him now.

“Guys, everybody thinks you suck. The Alabama dynasty is done. I’m too old. We don’t have a quarterback. We have some new offensive coordinator. We’re supposed to be terrible. What do you think of that?

Meanwhile, the rat poison will all be headed to Georgia, LSU and Tennessee this year. And Saban loves it. He has not been in this situation since the SEC Media Days selection tabbed Auburn as the SEC champion in 2015. Alabama “overachieved” to win the SEC and the national championship that year. Auburn finished seventh of seven in the West.

Saban sounded rejuvenated in Nashville, and it wasn’t all because of the cannoli from his stop in Italy.

“I think we have a pretty good mindset on our team. Our team seems to be pretty hungry this year and motivated,” he said.

After all, the Tide did dare to lose two regular season games last year (each on the last play) for only the second time over the previous 12 seasons.

“If you don’t have the right mindset, you’re never going to bring that talent to fruition,” he said. “One thing that kind of goes with all that is humility. When you have humility, you always think there’s a better way. So you are always searching. You’re always listening. You’re always trying to learn.”

On the other hand, if you keep hearing the rat poison of how great you are, you think you know it all.

“If you just think you’re really, really good, and you’re better than everybody else, sometimes you don’t have the same kind of team chemistry that goes with players and coaches alike,” he said.

Saban sounded newly refreshed. Could he be, dare I say it, rebuilding? Yes.

The man compared his doughy – lacking form and function – quarterback position to his grandmother baking a cake, for crying out loud. This is a man starting over in many ways. He is banking on new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, a rising talent from Notre Dame. But he is anything but proven.

Other than Notre Dame, Rees’ only jobs were as a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2015 and a second level offensive assistant for a forgettable San Diego Chargers team in 2016 (5-11 that followed a 4-12) and a pedestrian head coach in Mike McCoy (now a QBs coach at Jacksonville).

Two of Rees’ passing offenses while Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator finished in the low 90s in the nation – 98th last year with 207 a game and 97th in 2020 with 207 a game. Most of his numbers were not impressive. Brian Kelly did want to bring Rees with him to LSU, though, as offensive coordinator when he left Notre Dame after the 2021 season.

Nick Saban Gambles On New Offensive Coordinator

Saban gambled when he hired Lane Kiffin to be his offensive coordinator before the 2014 season. Kiffin was only 38 and damaged goods at the time after being fired by USC. But he was a head coach at USC and previously at Tennessee and with the Oakland Raiders. Plus, he had more skins on the wall as an offensive coordinator with USC under Pete Carroll than Rees at Notre Dame.

The Kiffin gamble worked marvelously as he revolutionized Alabama’s pass offense like never before, which was key to the 2015 national title. Kiffin had off-field and maturity issues. His coaching was not the problem. Rees is more of a gamble. He has never been in charge of a side of the ball with so much at stake. And he doesn’t have a quarterback on paper. Kiffin had Jake Coker.

Rees was also not Saban’s first choice. Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb turned the job down.

“Tommy Rees is one of the brightest young guys that I’ve seen in a long time in this business,” Saban said. “He’s been a great addition and brought a lot of positives to the offensive side of the ball in terms of his ideas and how he relates to players, how he presents to players. His energy and enthusiasm on the field has been contagious.”

OK, he’s young. The last time Saban hired an offensive coordinator this young was Major Applewhite, 28, before Saban’s first season at Alabama in 2007. Applewhite lasted one season.

By this season’s end with Alabama not in the College Football Playoff for the second straight year, I’m thinking Saban may be missing all the rat poison.

3 SEC Media Days Takeaways

KIRBY SMART DOESN’T GET IT: Georgia coach Kirby Smart appeared to be in denial about the obvious culture issues that his program has shown in recent months. One of his players said what Smart should have said. That was junior center Sedrick Van Pran of New Orleans.

“Perception comes from when you make a mistake,” he said Tuesday. “Starting off, it’s taking responsibility and understanding that we have made some mistakes. Don’t shy away from it. Understand it and own up to it. We have a responsibility to protect the University of Georgia.”

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: “What would you have to do to get a bowl ban?”, SEC Network talk show host Paul Finebaum asked Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated at SEC Media Days in light of the NCAA weakly not giving Tennessee a bowl ban last week.

Former Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt and his myriad of NCAA rules violations made even former LSU basketball coach Will Wade look innocent. Pruitt was head cheater of a program that produced more than 200 NCAA violations by a dozen staff members.

“Would you have to take the president of the NCAA hostage to get a bowl ban?”, Finebaum asked.

“I mean, I don’t want to know what it would take,” Forde said. “Because it would be really bad.”

THE LAST WORD: SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wants Congress to solve the NIL and NCAA Transfer portal double whammy scourge that is ruining college football. That’s a cop-out. The NCAA allowed the NIL and the portal to become a mess. Conferences like the SEC, commissioners like Sankey and all the member institutions make up the NCAA. This is the NCAA’s mess to clean up. Not that of Congress, which has bigger problems to solve or make worse.

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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