On the recent day that a great basketball coach died, a great football coach sat down for an extraordinary interview with the Sporting News. Alabama coach Nick Saban talked about how the very first book he read about coaching was written by John Wooden, the late, legendary UCLA coach.
How long will Saban coach? Will he be surprised if his team can go a third-consecutive regular season without a Southeastern Conference loss? What’s bigger: Alabama-Auburn in November or Alabama-Florida in December? These are some of the questions the 58-year-old coach was asked by the magazine’s Steve Greenberg, whose “conversations” always are a highlight of the fortnightly magazine. Some of the best questions – and answers – pertain to Saban’s two years in the NFL and his departure from the Miami Dolphins.
I would post a link to this “conversation” with Saban, but the Sporting News doesn’t post content in its magazine until a week or two after publication. Look for it early next month on SportingNews.com.
In the meantime, here are a few excerpts from the interview. …
SN: You’re creeping up on 60. Is it too soon to ask how long you want to coach?
SABAN: … What scares me the most is: What do you do when you retire? I can’t sit still now. So I don’t know why I’d think that I could sit still then. I need something to do.
SN: Alabama has gone two years without a regular-season SEC loss. Will you be surprised if this team makes it three?
SABAN: … I don’t think there’s any magic here. I don’t think that we’re going to have any more success because of the success we had a year ago. But I also feel that because we had success last year, that doesn’t mean we can’t have success again this year. …
SN: Being branded a liar after you left the Dolphins in 2007 – such a harsh word, but it was used widely – how did that affect you? And does it continue to in any way?
SABAN: … I had a responsibility and an obligation to the players on that team, the coaches on the staff, and I didn’t want that to be the focus of attention. So would I manage it differently? Absolutely. I would still have the same integrity for our team, but I just would not answer any questions relative to Alabama.
SN: … But were you taken aback – perhaps offended – by the extent to which you were vilified?
SABAN: I really don’t choose to criticize others. I would rather take responsibility for my own self-determination. And when things like that happen, I sort of look within. …