Nick Saban would really like the sports media to listen to what he’s trying to tell them.
The Alabama Crimson Tide head coach appeared on Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio on Thursday in the wake of the Tide’s 42-14 victory in the BCS Championship game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Saban was asked whether he’s having fun, and taking time to enjoy the success the Tide are having. The coach pointed out the inconsistency in selling him as being driven in one breath, then taking him to task for it with the next.
“You sit here and beat me up about worrying about next season, and then the next question is, ‘what are you gonna do when you play Johnny Football and Texas A&M in the second game next year,'” Saban said, his voice rising. “So which side of this fence do y’all want me to be on?”
Throughout his time at Alabama, the media narrative on Saban has been that he is an automaton; driven beyond all reason to succeed regardless of who he has to crush to reach that success. Never mind that it’s demonstrably untrue; rival fans want to believe it, so the narrative feeds into it.
Saban was pressed on this issue, of course. He was compared to Bulls GM Jerry Krauss about his desire to return to preparation as soon as possible, to the exclusion of living in the moment.
“It’s been two days; I’ve been happy for two days. Now it’s time to move on,” Saban said.
“I was happy for the players, I’m happy for the fans. But I’m also very aware of reestablishing a direction for next year’s team.”
Most of the reports on Saban’s interview will focus on yet another denial that he is interested in coaching in the NFL. But to those who have listened for years to Saban’s words on the subject, it’s never been important that Saban give a specifically-worded denial.
That denial is very important, however, to the gotcha types that want to parse his words to look for some inconsistency. Still, Saban tries to be clear:
“I don’t know how many times I’ve gotta say it, y’all don’t believe it,” he said when asked yet again to confirm that the door to the NFL is closed for him.
“Every time I do an interview, I gotta say the same thing. And y’all don’t believe it, so I why do I even have to keep saying it?”
Hilariously, Mike Greenburg closed the show by saying he had a feeling they’d be having the conversation again next year. Of course you will, Mike. That’s the script.