What Sets Nick Saban Apart From Other Coaches

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If you are going to be successful, you have to be able to adjust. You can have a plan, but external factors and circumstances are going to play a role in how much you have to deviate from that plan. If you can’t make the necessary adjustments, failure is inevitable.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has taken this belief and excelled with it. He’s been able to turn the Crimson Tide football program into one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time, mostly because of his ability to adapt.

Saban recently talked about some of the adjustments he’s had to make, and it’s fascinating stuff.

Alabama’s initial philosophy under Saban was to play good defense and run the ball effectively. That philosophy helped the Crimson Tide win three national titles, but it started to become an outdated approach around 2013-14.

Successful coaches like Saban often find change difficult. They are stubborn, and that’s their downfall. Saban is different though. He saw that rules were being changed to help offenses and realized that his current approach wouldn’t lead Alabama to anymore championships.

So what did he do? He adjusted. Check out Saban talking about the how and why below.

This is brilliant stuff.

A lot of Alabama fans have longed for the return of the 2011, 2012 or 2016 defenses. Dominating opposing offenses and holding them to 10 points per game is great, but it’s an unrealistic expectation nowadays. Football is a game of scoring, and the best coaches have adjusted to the new world.

How has that worked out for the Tide? Well, they’ve won another three titles since and made an appearance in every College Football Playoff except one. I’d say that’s pretty good, right?

It’s time to redefine what elite defense means today, and it’s time for other coaches besides Nick Saban to make the needed adjustments to stay relevant. Hopefully, guys like Kirby Smart are finally starting to figure it out.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Written by Clint Lamb

Clint Lamb is a College Football Writer for OutKick. Managing Editor for Roll Tide Wire. Sports radio host for The Bullpen on 730/103.9 The UMP. Co-host for The 'Bama Beat podcast through The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com.


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  1. You know what I actually think separates Saban from other coaches? He understands the essential philosophies of football and understands the implications of each rule or rule change like he wrote them. Heโ€™s a rule book scholar. Knowing the rules backwards and forwards is only half of it, he also studies the implications each rule or change or subtlety has on the approach and planning to take.

    Watch the HBO special with Saban and Belicheck. You hear a lot of that philosophical talk too, which is why I think anyone who diminishes the coaching ability of Belicheck doesnโ€™t really know football. Brady isnโ€™t the only reason the Pats are great folks. Please. Thatโ€™s an insult to football. These guys are PhD level football research minds on another level than everyone else. Theyโ€™re thinking in 3D chess while everyone else is still setting up checker boards. Greatest football mind Iโ€™ve ever seen.

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