Nick Saban has been no stranger to criticism during his years as a college football coach. That comes with the territory when you’ve won seven national championships and been at the top of your game for the last two decades.
However, Saban doesn’t always see the criticism he receives as a bad thing.
With his Alabama Crimson Tide in the midst of another playoff pursuit, the 70-year-old head coach explained how he deals with the constant questioning of his judgment, season after season. He shared that he’s learned to deal with it, because often times, he’s his team’s worst critic.
“I think it’s fine. We criticize ourselves all the time,” Saban said, via BamaOnLine. “We try to close the gap on perfect in everything that we do. I think players try to close the gap on perfect in everything that they do. Is it possible to be perfect all the time? Probably not. That’s why you prepare. That’s why you practice. But when we don’t get the gap closed like we’d like to, we’re very critical of ourselves in terms of identifying what we need to do to try to fix it and how we can try to help players become better, whether it’s physical or psychological, you know, whatever the challenge may be. So we’re always trying to get it right. We’re always trying to be perfectionists and how we go about what we do. I don’t think we’ve ever accomplished that, nor do I think we ever will.
Although Saban understands that criticism comes with the territory in a sport like football, he points out that he’s the one left to deal with the consequences of any decision that’s made.
Here’s the rest of his answer on the subject of criticism, via Saturday Down South:
“There’s always going to be something that you can be critical of. And there’s something that I can be critical of. There’s something that every coach can be critical of relative to his players. Every player can be critical of themselves and something that he could have done better. I think getting criticized is kind of a part of the game. I’m not sure anybody gets it wrong. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. There’s obviously more than one way to skin a cat. So, how you go about trying to win a game, whether it’s the end of the game and you don’t throw it on 3rd down to get a first down and give the other team the ball back with no timeouts with a minute left to go in the game, I mean, we could debate that forever as to what the best way to do that is. But we chose to do it a certain way and it worked.
“So everybody’s entitled to their opinion and what we should have done. But the thing that no one has to deal with, that has an opinion, is the consequences. We have to deal with the consequences of the decisions and choices that we make. And when we make good ones, when they work, they’re usually good ones and you know, when they don’t work, they’re not good ones. So that’s just part of the game.”
That’s quite the nuanced answer from Saban and one that gives a unique glimpse into the mindset of one of football’s best coaches. His approach is part of the reason why Alabama continues to be a top-tier college football program.
At 9-1, the Crimson Tide are well-positioned for another postseason run this season. Saban will look to keep Alabama’s hopes of a College Football playoff berth alive this weekend against Arkansas.
Kickoff between the Tide and the Razorbacks is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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