“High achievers don’t like mediocre people; mediocre people don’t like high achievers.” – Nick Saban
When you excel, you are singled out for good and ill. Nick Saban has been singled out since the day he stepped foot in Tuscaloosa as being the epitome of the mercenary, win-at-all-costs coach.
The reasons are obvious to anyone with the slightest objectivity. Anger and jealousy from the LSU and Miami Dolphins fan base, who wouldn’t have resented his leaving if he were a poor coach. Resentment from many in the media for his refusal to let them set the terms of the discussion, and making journalists work for their copy.
Saban is also under the harsh spotlight of anyone that thinks he tries too hard to field the best possible team, and to sign the best possible recruits. He takes his job too seriously, and works too hard. Perfect isn’t good enough for Nick Saban.
In short, Saban makes us uncomfortable with our own mediocrity.
Our modern world wants a level playing field, and we’re willing to throw excellence under the bus in favor of ‘fairness.’ It’s much easier to tear down success than it is to overcome failure, so we fall at the altar of parity. If this means a team like Alabama – where overachieving is the standard – is the constant example of all that is wrong with sport, then so be it. Everyone should get a trophy, so nobody feels left out.
A recent examination of oversigning notes that Alabama is among 15 major-conference teams to have oversigned in 2013, with nine players separating the bottom of the list and the top. The headline?
‘There’s Alabama, and there’s everyone else.’
Being on top has its disadvantages. Everyone wants to see you knocked down, and plenty are trying. But Saban continues to pursue excellence, bending the rules to their breaking point sometimes. He also outworks, out-thinks and out-performs his competitors. And while excellence can be its own reward, mediocrity can be its own prison.