John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Nick Saban: How The Process Triumphs Over Superstition


On Saturday night, the Alabama Crimson Tide staged an amazing come-from-behind victory when all seemed lost. Alabama’s two-minute offense was executed flawlessly, and capped with the perfect call: TJ Yeldon releasing his block and taking an AJ McCarron screen pass 28 yards for the winning score.

And they did it all without the help of my lucky shorts.

Now that the victory is won, I can confess to the world that I was unable to watch the Alabama-LSU game live. I kept up with the score through the miracle of modern technology, but only made it home in time to see the Tide defense make the stop that forced an errant LSU field goal, followed by the winning Alabama drive.

During that drive, the thought did occur to me that I wasn’t wearing my lucky shorts; a pair of ragged, ugly cargo shorts that have seen me through years of Alabama wins. Then I realized I had only sparingly worn them over the last few years anyway, and only for games I felt needed that extra weapon against the Tide’s foes.

In fact, the Crimson Tide have needed precious little help from any superstitions or talismans over the last several years, as you may have noticed. Lucky Alabama gear seems to be yet another casualty of Nick Saban’s process.

Just as Alabama has needed little help from the more superstitious among us, the Crimson Tide has been little hindered by the attempts of rival fans and teams to put a scare into them.

Anyone recall the Georgia Bulldog’s Blackout, and how definitively it backfired? What about the Penn State Whiteout, and how well that worked?

Mississippi State’s #WeBelieve pranksters didn’t seem to affect the outcome either. And when all was said and done Saturday night, the LSU version had the same affect on the final score.

There’s also the matter of the presidential election. Alabama has never won a national championship during a Republican administration, which as we all know, only occurs on Election Tuesdays following a Washington Redskins loss, which also means…

Human beings are a credulous lot, and none more so than football fans. The reason the Bud Light ‘Superstition‘ ad campaign works so well is its basic truth; it’s pretty accurate in depicting the lengths to which sports fans go to try to affect the outcome of a game.

But in the Nick Saban era, streaks and superstitions have been giving way to process and execution, as surely as the Dark Ages gave way to the Renaissance. Science and intellect seem to have once again dissipated the clouds of ignorance and lucky charms, at least where the gridiron is concerned.

Critics of the Process have stated that Saban’s methodical approach takes the fun out of the game, making it too much like work. But if you ask the players actually hoisting the championship trophies, Saban’s Process is a means to an end; it’s a level of competence and performance that eliminates – at least from the minds of the players – the need for luck.

It also means that while Alabama players are doing more work, the fans are doing less.

There’s less time spent gathering lucky charms, washing lucky clothing and ritualistically going through incantations and spells to generate enough good karma to pull the Tide through. That time can now be spent, you know, actually watching and enjoying the game.

Let the fans of other schools make sure the labels on their beer bottles are facing the correct direction during critical moments; Alabama fans can take pride in being able to sit back, and know that – due to the Process – the team on the field can handle it all by themselves.

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Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Football