Nick Saban and the Alabama Juggernaut Lifts All Boats


I’m a multitasker. I usually have several windows open on my computer, so I can watch one thing, while reading another, while working on still another.

As I was going through the various news outlets that report on Alabama sports, I was watching the movie Patton on Netflix in the background. And I was struck by a line delivered by George C. Scott’s iconoclastic WWII general, and how easily it could have been spoken by the Crimson Tide’s football coach.

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During the Allied invasion of Sicily, a race broke out between Patton and British commander Montgomery to take the city of Messina. It had been granted to Montgomery the privilege of leading the conquering forces, but Patton wanted to seize the town first and claim the victory and with it, the glory.

Patton won the race, but at the cost of heavy casualties. In the movie, commander Omar Bradley declines to go with Patton to receive the adulation of the liberated people, asking Patton at what cost was the victory won.

“Omar,” Patton growled, “It’s time to consider how many casualties we’d have if we’d been stuck crawling up that goddamn road.”

This line came as I read the attempts by the Atlanta media to yet again paint Nick Saban as a heartless villain, sacrificing yet another innocent young man to grease the treads of the Alabama war machine.

Saban’s treachery was – as always in the Atlanta media – contrasted with the virtue of Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose official title seems to be “Good Christian Man.” I have no idea the condition of Richt’s soul, any more than the Georgia fanbase knows Saban’s ultimate destination. But I do know this: if Richt had quit coaching to become a missionary the day Saban was hired nearly six years ago, he’d have the same number of SEC and BCS titles he does now.

There’s no argument from Bama Nation that Saban is a relentless recruiter, and someone that stretches the letter of the rules until they scream for mercy. Saying he does this for his own glory at the expense of his young recruits is sheer lunacy.

Saban’s having built a football juggernaut has brought in nearly $72 million to the football program alone. Football funds other, non-revenue generating sports and provides kids an opportunity to pursue their athletic endeavours.

How many young men has Saban prepared for a successful NFL career, where they will make tens of millions of dollars, and provide for their families? Would these men have had that chance playing at Tulane or Wyoming?

How many assistant coaches have been given the opportunity to become head coaches, and provide a living for their families they wouldn’t otherwise have?

How much tax revenue has Saban brought into the city of Tuscaloosa through the rental of hotel rooms, the purchase of merchandise and the food and beverages consumed? How much money have local businesses made?

It’s time someone asks a guy like Richt if he plans to save a young man like Justin Taylor from the icy grip of Nick Saban by offering him a scholarship. (he hasn’t.) And it’s time someone asks how many casualties – in terms of profits and opportunities never realized – there would have been if Alabama football were still stuck crawling up that road.

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Tags: Football Nick Saban