Nick Saban, Alabama Fighting The Battle of Complacency

The arrest over the weekend of Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Geno Smith calls to mind recent examples of teams that fell not due to a superior opponent, but to the demon of complacency.

Complacency –  defined as a feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble or controversy – is one of the most common words being tossed around Alabama camp from coaches and players alike. It’s one of the very things that Nick Saban, among others, feel contributed to Alabama’s downfall in 2010, despite having an immensely talented team.

Alabama was coming off its first national championship since 1992 and was sitting atop the college football world. The buzz was huge around Alabama’s attempt to repeat as champions. ESPN came to town to film a special following around the Tide football team during fall camp. The documentary “Nick Saban: Gamechanger” was also filming during this time as well.

Then Alabama fell to South Carolina and LSU, and had a second-half collapse against Auburn that many fans still feel today. The comparison between that team and the 2013 Crimson Tide has already begun and will only increase. As in 2010, ESPN was in town and got a unique, up-close look at Alabama practices. CBS’ “60 Minutes” is filming a special around Saban and the football program as well.

In 2013, the biggest strength on Alabama’s team is an offense featuring some of the biggest weapons ever at Alabama. A seasoned quarterback is surrounded by a cast of talented receivers and backs.

Sound familiar?

In 2010 Alabama returned some of the biggest offensive weapons Nick Saban had ever had, with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones, plus a seasoned senior quarterback in Greg McElroy.

All during camp Nick Saban has repeated the word complacency to everyone that will listen, from the local media to ESPN to most certainly the players. The biggest advantage this team has over the 2010 team is that the leaders of the 2013 Crimson Tide have experience in how to deal with trying to repeat as national champions.

Saban will rely on veteran leaders like AJ McCarron, Anthony Steen, CJ Mosley, Vinnie Sunseri, Kevin Norwood, and Adrian Hubbard to shoulder the load in keeping complacency out of the locker room and off the practice field. Nick Saban is doing his part, bringing in speakers like Herman Edwards, Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and Yankees manager Joe Girardi to come in and preach about not being complacent.

Ultimately there is only so much the coach and guest speakers can do. It’s the players that are in the locker room, in the weight room, in the dorms, in the classrooms, and in hanging out off campus together.

The leaders have to keep complacency from creeping in and biting this talented football team, as it did to the 2010 squad. AJ McCarron has been preaching about complacency about as much as Saban has from SEC Media Days until now.

Following the 2011 season, leading into last season, Nick Saban spoke about complacency and trying to continue the success from a previous season:

“Having success in a football program can have two effects, you can demand more success, or you can get a little complacent and be relaxed about what you have accomplished, really think more about what you did rather than what you’re going to do.”

The coming weeks will show whether the message has been received.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide Football

  • Bryant Denny

    That 2010 team faced a lot of pressure – #1 ranking, winning streak and a lot of opponents with off dates before playing them.

    I’m not sure this year’s team’s problem will be complacency. My thinking is if you can’t get up for a three-peat, what can you get up for? I think the problems will be more along the lines of nose tackle play and decent OL play.

    Have a good day,


    • Josh Boutwell

      Complacency is always a huge task to overcome when you have so much success. The target is on your back and you’re going to get EVERYONE’S best shot. If you get complacent and dont pay attention to the little details and lose focus that’s what can get you beat. It’s obviously not the ONLY obstacle to overcome but it most definitely is a huge obstacle.

    • tdefan35555

      I’m not worrie dabout the OL with the talent we have on Offense the only thing that is going to beat Bama is complacency, and the seeming downward spiral of player not doing what they should be doing, and getting in trpouble. We need to take a good long look at wheather we should even keep Geno Smith on the team. I say drop him. set the example.

      • Bryant Denny

        I’m not quite seeing the downward spiral yet.

        In terms of keeping Smith on the team, I think I’ll leave that one to Saban. I remember when David Palmer should have been kicked to the curb and Stallings noted that Palmer needed the team more than the team needed Palmer. Point being, if the kid has a track record, Saban will cut him loose, but if this is isolated it’ll be dealt with and everyone will move on.

        Have a good day,


        • tdefan35555

          Well if your not seeing it you most not be looking, because from the end of last season to now there have been numerous things that players have been getting in trouble for. Even to the point that some have been kicked off the team, and looking at jail time. IMHO there have been a lot more issues this off season then we have had in the recent past, which gives me a little concern. However I too am sure Coach Saban will do what is best, but I would realy like the reports of bad conduct to stop, and if it takes makeing an example of someone then so be it.

          • Bryant Denny

            Well, I guess I’m not looking then.

            Four players arrested = Saban hits the eject button four times. To me, that’s not complacency. That’s next man up, you missed your chance.

            I’m not excusing any of the behavior. As far as I’m concerned, he can do whatever is necessary to discipline Geno Smith. But there will be issues that happen with 100+ kids on a church trip so I figure an incident or two with 100+ college kids will happen from time to time.

            Have a good one,


          • tdefan35555

            I agree your going to have an incident or two with this amount of kids especially in college. It just appears to me that there are a lot more this year then in the lsat couple years or so. So that makes me wonder if we are starting to see a trend, and if so we need to stop it. With the speaches that Coach has been lining up and his talk about complacency, I believe he is noticing it also and is trying to nip it in the budd. I feel we might want to start getting a little more strick. 1 Game suspention is not much, but like coach said he’s never been in trouble before. I hope we have seen the last of the problems.

          • Bryant Denny

            Good points. Enjoyed talking with you.