TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama has won four national championships under coach Nick Saban’s direction, and while fans are celebrating that fact, Saban is likely thinking about filling up another trophy case.
Saban’s drive and his ability to compartmentalize things while moving on to the next task is stuff that legends are made of, and no one has a better view of the head coach’s insane work ethic and commitment than Alabama athletic director Bill Battle.
“Most of us, when we have success and big success, we like to sit back and relax a little bit and feel like we can enjoy the experience,” Battle said in an interview with SiriusXM College Sports Nation, according to coachingsearch.com. “If you’re going to do what Coach (Paul ‘Bear’) Bryant did and what Coach Saban is currently doing — he’s the best I’ve ever seen at putting things behind him.”
Battle, who took over as AD for the late Mal Moore in 2013, played under Bryant in the early ’60s, so he’s had a good view of both of the iconic coaches.
Bryant won six national championships and is credited with adopting to the style of the game along the way to help keep the Crimson Tide at the top of college football. Saban has done the same during his four national championship (and counting) run at Alabama from his suffocating defense during the 2011 championship season to most recently winning a 45-40 shootout over Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game in January.
Along with the titles, Saban has reeled in top-ranked recruiting class after top-ranked recruiting class, is helping players develop for the professional level and also graduating players at a very high rate.
But it all starts with Saban’s work behind the scenes.
“The day after he won a championship, he’s thinking about the next one. When I got here, I talked to a trustee,” Battle said. “We had won back-to-back national championships. The day after the second, coach Saban called (him) and said, ‘Dadgummit, I’ve been talking about this for a year now. We’ve got to move the weight room over here, redo the player’s dressing room and meeting rooms and so forth.’
“(The trustee) said, ‘Nick, relax. We’ve won two national championships with what we’ve got. (Saban) said, ‘That’s the trouble with you guys. You all think about the last two. I’m thinking about the next two.’ I guess it takes that burning desire every day, the intense focus to be able to do it. Not many people are able to do that in any profession.”