Midway through Alabama’s dismantling of Notre Dame, I googled Nick Saban. He is among other things 61 years old and didn’t win the first of his four BCS titles until age 50. A review of his coaching record up to that point is far longer on respect than success measured in titles or even wins. His best wins at Michigan State were offset by tough losses of both the gut-wrenching and blow out variety. He is a losing coach at the NFL level, and even his title-winning tenure at LSU seems a slight aberration, but for the fact that his successor, Les Miles has made a habit of keeping Saban’s old program in the title hunt on an annual basis.
But as the clock struck midnight in Miami, there is no argument that Nick Saban is not the best coach in college football. He has won four BCS titles at two schools, and three in four years at Alabama. His teams are talented, they play with heart and intelligence, and seem to be at their best in the big moments. The fabric of Saban’s Tide is “The Process”, a comprehensive and all encompassing system of procedures that if adhered to produce the desired outcome…unprecedented football glory.
It is here that lies the explanation of Saban’s delayed dominance. “The Process” was not something that was fortuitously discovered in the football office, or the divine residue of falling off the toilet and banging his head on the floor. It is the manifestation of experience….good and bad, and the analysis and processing that experience into a system that produces better football, better football players and better men.