Former Alabama offensive lineman John Hannah has a unique perspective when it comes to Crimson Tide history.
Hannah was a two-time All-American under coach Bear Bryant from 1970-72. The player went on to enjoy a successful NFL career with the New England Patriots during which he became a nine-time Pro Bowl player.
Recently, Hannah spoke to AL.com’s Mark Heim about a number of topics. During the question-and-answer session, Hannah was asked about Saban, and the former Crimson Tide standout addressed key differences between Bryant and Alabama’s current coach. The answer was fascinating.
Check out the exchange between Heim and Hannah below:
Q. You mentioned Bryant and Saban, so I’m curious. There was an SI cover after Alabama won its most recent championship with Saban on the cover. They photoshopped a houdstooth fedora on Saban’s head. Some Alabama fans took exception to that. What is your reaction?
A. I’ll tell you a story. I remember when Saban was first hired. Some guy called me. He asked me what I thought of Saban. Really, I didn’t know much. He said, “Well, he has a hard time with his coaches and coaches really fear him, and this and that and the other.” I said, “Well, that sounds like coach Bryant.” Then, he said, “He doesn’t get along with the newspaper guys and doesn’t do well with the media.” I said, “Well, that sounds like coach Bryant. He kept going and everything he said about Saban sounded like coach Bryant.”
They aren’t the same people. I think coach Saban is a little bit closer to all his players than coach Bryant was. Coach Bryant was maybe closer to one or two guys on the team. That’s it. The rest of them were scared to death of him.
I think Saban reaches out a lot more in recruiting. He’s an unbelievable recruiter. He has gotten so much talent down there. They are different personalities and some other subtleties, but they are both great coaches who have accomplished a whole lot at the University.
It’s always fun to hear insight from former Alabama stars under Bryant about how they view Saban. With Saban winning his fifth national title with Alabama and his sixth overall in January, it’s becoming easier to argue that Saban is college football’s greatest coach regardless of era. The Crimson Tide and their fans are living through a remarkable time.
Still, some in Alabama consider Bryant to be the top Crimson Tide coach after he won six national titles and made Alabama a national juggernaut. Let the debate continue.