Alabama head coach Nick Saban is often seen in a harsh light showcasing a coach that will stop at nothing to put together the best possible championship contender you can find, while earning riches upon riches along the way. Saban is, simply put, a college football totalitarian and it has been paying off in dividends for he and Alabama. But it should not be overlooked that there is a human side of Saban rarely seen in the public light.
The family of 15-year old Jordan Edwards can vouch for that after a touching tribute to the life of Edwards was given to them from Saban.
Edwards dreamed of being able to one day suit up and play for Alabama, but he was recently shot and killed by a police officer in Texas in April. Upon hearing of Edwards’ fate and dreams, Saban reached out to the family and presented them with an Alabama jersey with Edwards’ name stitched on the back. In addition to the personalized jersey, Saban included a handful of other pieces of Alabama flair and memorabilia.
See? Saban does have a human side to him.
Surprise, surprise. A college football coach who once was sternly against the concept of satellite camps is now embracing the opportunity to participate in a satellite camp. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was spotted at a camp at USF over the weekend.
Saban’s appearance at a USF camp run by USF head coach Charlie Strong was the first time the Alabama head coach with a handful of national championship rings showed up at a satellite camp.
After wrapping up his duties at USF, Saban was heading to Florida International for a second camp appointment. This was not a coincidence either. It appears Saban’s decision to attend camps at USF and FIU was in response to former Alabama assistant and current FAU head coach Lane Kiffin having Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer at a satellite camp at FAU.
Saban, for whatever reason, has had a change of heart regarding satellite camps. A year ago Saban went off on the satellite camp issue by drawing comparisons to the wild west and questioning the actual value of satellite camps. He called satellite camps ridiculous and engaged in a war of words with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on the subject. But Saban is hardly the first coach to do a 180-degree turn with their stance on satellite camps. Meyer was also once against satellite camps before he was in favor of them.
Previously, SEC coaches were blocked from working at a satellite camp as a conference policy aimed to prevent coaches from essentially competing against each other within the SEC footprint. The ACC abided by this silly policy as well until the battle against satellite camps was turned aside in the interest of common sense. Coaches should be able to work whatever camps they wish, regardless of location. The SEC was holding their coaches back while coaches form the Big Ten were working camps in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and so on.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is the highest-paid head coach in college football, and there is also a good chance he may be the active coach with the most fans inking his face on their bodies. This weekend at Talladega, photos surfaced of the tattoo of the week, a portrait of Saban on a shirtless racing fan’s back.
The image of this particular back tattoo quickly made the rounds on the internet, but it is undoubtedly the only Saban tattoo out in the wild.
With quarterback Blake Barnett looking to rebound after seeing his short career at Alabama not pan out the way it was initially expected, Barnett had a chance to reflect on his time at Alabama with the media as he opens spring with Arizona State.
“Things ended up the way they did,” said Barnett, who has been granted an exemption to be able to play for the Sun Devils this upcoming season. “To be honest, I’m not quite sure why. But I’m here now.”
Let’s cut straight to the chase. It’s because Jalen Hurts stepped in and dazzled when given an opportunity to lead Alabama’s offense. As Alabama was rolling their way to an undefeated regular season, SEC championship and third straight berth in the College Football Playoff, some took to arguing Hurts was worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration if Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (the eventual Heisman Trophy winner) dropped off down the stretch (which he did).
The story will go that Barnett did not play well in Alabama’s 2016 season opener against USC. Barnett completed five of six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, but Jalen Hurts took the game by storm with four total touchdowns. Criticisms of Barnett appearing to be nervous in AT&T Stadium ran wild, and Nick Saban did nothing to quiet that idea down. In fact, he may have poured the proverbial gasoline on the fire for talk about Barnett being nervous. Saban commented on the possible nervousness during his brief halftime interview during the game and later addressed the importance of “not quitting” following the announcement Barnett was transferring in late September. Barnett was not oblivious to the comments coming from Saban.
“A lot of backlash that I received from [the USC game] was that I came out nervous,” Barnett said, according to ESPN.com. “I think you could ask just about every teammate and they’d agree that I wasn’t. But a certain coach went out to the media and said that I was and so I got that negative reputation from it.”
We get it. Top players want to have a shot at playing a key role, and sometimes that means players not getting the time they believe they have earned can lead to some sour situations. Did Barnett quit on Alabama, or is he fair to evaluate all of his options to find the best possible fit for him that may lead to a better opportunity?
Alabama needs an offensive coordinator after losing Steve Sarkisian to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, but could Nick Saban go as far as to bring in Chip Kelly to fill the vacancy on the coaching staff? The combination seems to be too interesting to ignore, the former Oregon head coach is not throwing his visor into the conversation at this time.
In a brief insider buzz video by Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Kelly has no interest in the vacancy on the Alabama coaching staff. Instead, Kelly has a desire to remain in the National Football League as either a head coach (that won’t happen after being fired from two head coaching gigs in as many seasons) or an offensive coordinator (this is more likely, but far from a given after how his offensive system has been exploited the last few years in the pros).
Of course, it is worth reminding readers coaches will never, or very rarely, express interest in any particular job that may be on the market. Kelly is no stranger to turning aside any number of coaching rumors over the years from denying interest in any NFL opportunities during his time at Oregon and denying interest in any college jobs during his time in the NFL. Of course, Kelly always had a job when previously asked to address coaching rumors, and now Kelly is sitting on the unemployment line of football coaches after being fired by the San Francisco 49ers. That makes this round of rumor denials different, because he is very much available.
This is not to say Kelly is lying about his level of interest in the Alabama offensive coordinator job. It is still possible Kelly will be an attractive coaching candidate for any number of jobs the next time the coaching carousel gets in full swing next season, both as an offensive coordinator and as a (college) head coach.
There is another former Oregon coach who could end up being a more likely possibility. Mark Helfrich, like Kelly, has been a trendy name in the rumor mill for the Alabama job. Helfrich was fired by Oregon this past season after a disappointing season. Saban could just stay in house too with Mike Locksley a viable candidate already on the staff.
Saban has said before Alabama will always find a way to hire the best possible coaches they can when the program loses coaches to other jobs, and there is no question that should continue with this latest coaching vacancy to fill.