By Dieter Kurtenbach
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.
No one had to tell Alabama football coach Nick Saban that he should “act like he’s been there before” as he received the Crimson Tide’s national championship trophy Tuesday morning.
He has been there before. And going back, frankly, didn’t seem to do much for him.
Hours before Saban’s Tuesday’s press conference, Alabama shellacked Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. By winning three titles in four years, and four in his past eight years of coaching in college, Saban established his place in the company with “Bear” Bryant, Robert Neyland, Tom Osborne and Woody Hayes.
What more is there for Saban to do? Many have suggested that the only challenge left for him is a return to the NFL.
Saban did his best to squash the NFL rumors Tuesday. It turns out that when he was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, Saban didn’t much care for the lack of control he had.
“I didn’t feel like I could impact the team the same way that I can as a college coach in terms of affecting people’s lives personally,” Saban said. “So I kind of learned through that experience that maybe this is where I belong, and I’m really happy and at peace with all that.”
“People say you can draft the players that you want to draft; you can draft a player that’s there when you pick,” Saban said. “It might not be the player you need, it might not be the player you want. You’ve got salary cap issues. We had them here (in Miami). You’ve got to have a quarterback. We had a chance to get one here; sort of messed it up.”
No, Saban isn’t keen on heading back to the NFL. As far as he’s concerned, he still has a lot to achieve at the college level, though he didn’t fully disclose that information Tuesday.
Amid all the accolades Saban has brought upon himself and Alabama, it should be noted that he has done it at a time when it has been most difficult to do so. The competition in major college football has never been better, but Saban has turned Alabama into a dynasty, despite playing in arguably the toughest conference ever — the SEC, which has won seven straight national championships.
Saban hardly celebrated the accomplishment. Saban’s system for success, The Process, which he references frequently both with players and the media, apparently doesn’t allow for much reveling. The coach forced half-smiles as he received the Crimson Tide’s trophies Tuesday. Despite achieving the pinnacle of success in college football, Saban seemed to rue all that comes with the victory. It’s getting in the way of his preparation for 2013.