Anyone who has watched college football over the past couple of decades is well aware of just how good Nick Saban and Bobby Bowden have been at their respective jobs. Bowden was once the head coach of a dominant Florida State program, and Saban is at the helm of an Alabama juggernaut that somehow makes some question if Saban has underachieved (no thanks to Steve Spurrier). One man who has a unique perspective on the two legendary coaches (and it is fair to suggest Saban at this point in time is legendary) is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who has coached for both during his coaching career.
While doing a radio interview with 680 The Fan in Atlanta, Smart was asked to compare and contrast Saban and Bowden. Smart says the two could not be more different.
“That’s interesting because I always said they are like polar opposites,” Smart said Monday, as transcribed by Al.com. “I mean, Bobby was so laid back, let so many of his coaches do so much more freedom [sic], hours were different. He ran the program in a different way than Nick did and they’re both so good at what they do.”
There is no single standard for operating a college football powerhouse. That much is clear from Smart’s assessment of how Bowden and Saban operate in charge of a significant football power. Bowden has always been more of a jovial face of the program, willing to talk to anyone who might listen, share stories and thoughts on the game and he would answer almost any question through good times and bad. Saban is a bit more of a contrarian, to put it kindly. Despite their differences, Smart says there are some similarities between the two as well.
“If you had to say the similarities, I’d probably say game maintenance in terms of pre-game speeches, talking to the team, controlling the team,” Smart said, again as transcribed by Al.com. “Bobby was very much ‘What I say to the team affects them.’ It’s the same way Nick is.”
Preparation is always the key. The programs that prepare the best will tend to have the greater chances for success, no matter the generation or era.