In the ever-changing world of college football, there remains one constant, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Bama has won 10 games in every season since 2008 and has been ranked number one at some point in each of those seasons.
Add in the seven SEC championships and six national championships, and you have one of the longest running dynasties in the history of college football.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is now preparing for his 15th season in Tuscaloosa. As his team has been the last one standing so many times, Saban is the last coach in the conference remaining of the ones in place when he returned to the conference in 2007. Saban understands why he’s lasted when others have not.
“I think that’s simple,” he said. “You’ve got to win. So what does it take to win? I think that answers the question better than anything. I think you have to have culture in your organization, which probably comes from the mindset of the people in your organization to have goals and aspirations for what they want to accomplish and what they want to do – and I’m talking about players as well here – and they have to have a good understanding of what does it take to accomplish those goals and aspirations to be the best that they can be, and how do they have to edit their behavior to be able to do that and can they have the discipline, self-discipline on a daily basis to execute and do the things they need to do, make the choices and decisions they need to make, so that they can be the best that they can be?”
Being the “King of the Hill” is the expectation for the Crimson Tide, and they intend to hold on to the crown in 2021.
“From a program standpoint, nothing really has changed from a culture standpoint for us,” Saban said. “We’re still all about helping our players have the best opportunity to be more successful in life because they were involved in the program, whether it’s personal development, academic support, career development, or their development in terms of developing a career as a football player.”
Player development hasn’t been an issue; ten players were drafted from last year’s national champions, including six in the first round. Each year, Alabama restocks with another class of five-star recruits and Saban adds another member to his staff to keep his team at the cutting edge of sports performance.
“The challenge is you’ve got to rebuild with a lot of new players who will be younger, have new roles, less experience, and how do they respond to these new roles? That’s why rebuilding is a tremendous challenge. That’s why it’s very difficult to repeat.
We’re going to be a work in progress as we focus on improvement, and that’s going to be critical to our success. We have a lot of difficult games early on the road, new coaches, new quarterback, eight new guys on offense. We do have some eight or nine starters back on defense.”
It seems that at Alabama, as soon as one hole is created, it’s filled before the next player shakes Roger Goodell’s hand. It’s a good problem to have.
Adaptability has been a hallmark of the Saban era. There have been transitions from a ground based running game to a sophisticated passing attack that has three former signal callers playing on Sundays this fall.
That extends to how his team prepares, which is on par with most professional squads.
“The new training regimen that David Ballou and Dr. Rhea have put in with our players is something that our players have really embraced and enjoy, and it’s actually improved us in explosive movement, and also injury prevention because it’s a much more technical approach, scientific approach to training, and it’s been very, very beneficial, and it’s something that I think has helped us improve tremendously.” he added.
Alabama is in the business of winning football games, and business has been very good. Joining the company means having an understanding of the individual responsibility each player carries in continuing that legacy.
“I think the mindset for our players is be the best player that you can be. I always use the example with our players to understand the scoreboard should not determine how you play in the game, whether you’re 14 points behind or 14 points ahead.
Who the opponent is should not determine the level that you play at, because if you’re controlling what you control, you want to be the best player that you can be, and you want to do that every single down because that’s what creates value for you.”
Alabama doesn’t compete with LSU, Auburn, or Ohio State. Alabama competes with Alabama.
Everyone else is trying to keep up.