I dreamed last night that I met Nick Saban.
Sure, that’s probably the work of a fevered mind, full to the brim of stats and game film and press conference transcripts. Having the pleasure and obligation of delivering information daily to our readers is a full-time job, even if it’s not my full-time job. But Bama Nation must get their info about Alabama Crimson Tide football, and we strive to give it to you.
So about that dream.
Saban was speaking at some event at the university, and I was standing among those waiting to receive him after the engagement. We were outside under an awning, as it had been pouring rain. As Saban rushed out of the auditorium with applause playing him off, the rain ceased.
I stood in the wings as others shook his hand and slapped him on the back. He looked ill at ease, having to engage people he did not know, who were treating him like an old family friend. Eventually the crowd subsided and he was left alone with his thoughts. I decided to approach him, because I might never get the chance again.
I asked the coach what he thought about these events, and he said he hated them. The speaking gigs, media events and other aspects of the job took time away from coaching and recruiting and practicing; all the things he wanted and needed to do. So much of college football – most of it, in fact – has little or nothing to do with the game itself.
He stepped out from under the awning and headed out into the parking lot, unaccompanied by any handlers or security detail. I noted this because it seemed odd such a powerful man would not have ‘people.’ I followed him, now more brazen since he had seen fit to talk to me. I decided to press my luck.
“Do you think I could possibly interview you sometime for my website?” I asked.
Saban stopped, and I immediately knew I’d overstepped. He now seemed like a caged animal looking for an escape route. Before he could reject the request outright, I gave him an out. I asked if instead, I could just ask him one question. As he said okay, a misting rain began to return. My time was running out.
I said that he surely is aware that ‘Bear’ Bryant is almost a demigod in Tuscaloosa. Despite that, he is becoming more popular than Bryant, and many people are coming around to the fact that he may be the greatest college football coach of all time.
What did he think of that, I asked.
Again Saban became uncomfortable and shifted nervously. His gaze shifted about and finally locked on something behind me; an escape route, a getaway car. Like a running back seeing the offensive line open up a fast-closing hole, he darted in that direction, and was gone.
The rain began to come down once again.