5 Takeaways from GQ's Profile of Nick Saban

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was the subject of a very good profile by Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer author Warren St. John in the September edition of GQ magazine.

Alabama fans have been poring over the article all morning, looking for insight into the might of the inscrutable head coach, and we have too. Here are five things we learned about Nick Saban from our reading of the piece:

Nick Saban wants a pat on the back from Dad.

Burt Reynolds was asked by then-Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, “What makes a man?”

“You’re not a man until your father says you are,” Reynolds replied.

Saban by many accounts revered his father; a Pop Warner coach, a rigid disciplinarian, and apparently a man who kept his emotional distance. It’s easy to be an amateur psychologist on someone that will never confirm or deny your theories. But it’s safe to say that many men know what it’s like to chase success in order to earn parental approval, and Saban seems no different.

Nick Saban hates Toby Keith.

Not the singer himself, mind you. But the GQ piece notes that Saban doesn’t listen to country music, and the fact that he doesn’t drink.

Country music is built upon songs about hard drinking and taking it easy; two things Saban doesn’t have time to do. Is it any wonder that he’s such a fan of the Eagles, a band hated by the Dude and other slackers and bums?

Nick Saban could leave Alabama.

“Terry likes it here,” is given as the main reason Saban has no plans to leave Alabama. And the happiness of one’s spouse is never a bad reason to do something. But Saban has never made any pretense of loving the state or Alabama football history or tradition. Those things are useful tools in building the product Saban wants to produce.

Fans shouldn’t be upset by that; Saban isn’t a populist like Bear Bryant was. He’s the CEO of a multi-million dollar venture, and as long as Saban feels that his team is putting out the best product possible, and that his customers are continuing to buy it, he’ll stay.

Nick Saban understands the Devil.

Not in a theological sense, but he understands the power of the numinous, that fear and trembling Mankind has always felt when he perceives a divine, unknowable presence.

While Saban is not the glad-hander Bryant was, he has Bryant ability to intimidate, to seem larger than life and capable of awesome displays of malevolence. Even his coaching staff refers to his withering stare as ‘bug zapper.’

If your choice of songs on the car stereo inspires a profile piece titled “Sympathy for the Devil,” you know more than a little about the psychology of perception.

Nick Saban has already passed Bear Bryant.

Saban is going to be analyzed, talked about and remembered long after his coaching days at Alabama end. But more importantly, he is going to leave a void in Tuscaloosa the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Bryant took his repose in Elmwood Cemetery.

Bryant represents a soft-focus past for most current Alabama fans; a legend that is more myth than man. Saban is the current head coach, and the man whose retirement will trigger a coaching search, as well as jockeying for position by the power brokers in Tuscaloosa. Whether he surpasses Bryant’s six national titles at Alabama is irrelevant; he’s already as irreplaceable as Bryant ever was.


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