COLUMBIA, S.C. — Each spring at the SEC meetings, South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin takes a few minutes to meet with Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
Their relationship dates back more than 20 years, to when Martin was a high school basketball coach in Miami and Saban was the head coach at Michigan State. It began when Sedrick Irvin, one of Martin’s players, signed to play running back for Saban and the Spartans.
“I’ve always been a big fan of [Saban’s], really, really studied his teams, how he handles things,” Martin said. “Here’s the part that I just absolutely love about Coach Saban: Everyone says it’s hard to repeat. The reason it’s hard to repeat is everyone, starting with the head coach, gets a little fat from success.
“One thing he doesn’t do is get fat from success. Every day is a new challenge. Every day is an exciting drive to get better. He doesn’t get consumed with what I call outside noise. He gets consumed with inside noise.”
Martin likened Saban to former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, who he grew up watching as a kid.
“I just marvel at their ability to not allow previous success to impact their enthusiasm to motivate and teach that following day or following year,” Martin said.