Too often in today’s sports world, the best athletes are allowed to basically do what they want, when they want, simply because of their God-given ability.
They’re given more chances to make mistakes off the field, and are rarely required to put in the same effort day-in and day-out to earn their playing time as their less athletic peers.
But that’s not the case for one legendary college football coach’s team, and he recently went on an epic rant to ensure everyone knows his team is not a democracy.
There’s a reason only a select few college football coaches are extremely successful every single year.
Those coaches create a culture and establish expectations that allow their teams to reload rather than rebuild as their rosters change drastically from year-to-year.
Of course, as everyone knows, no coach has done that better than Alabama’s Nick Saban.
And recently, Saban once again went on one of his patented rants and proved to the world why he’s become the greatest college football coach of all-time, and built a dynasty at Alabama that’s made them the odds-on favorite to win a National Championship pretty much every single year.
Earlier in preseason camp, Alabama’s star tight end Jahleel Billingsley missed a significant amount of time for undisclosed reasons.
At that time, Saban made it clear that Billingsley had a lot of work to do to earn back his spot, even if he’s undoubtedly one of the team’s top offensive weapons heading into the 2021 season.
So with Alabama’s season kicking off in less than two weeks against Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Saban was asked at a recent press conference for an update on Billingsley and whether or not he had done what Saban required of him to earn back his playing time.
However, rather than answering that specific question, Saban took the opportunity to not only send a message to Billingsley but also to his entire football team.
“Well, that’s up to him. That’s not up to me. He knows what he’s supposed to do at practices, he knows what he’s supposed to do,” Saban said. “This is not a democracy. Everybody doesn’t get to do what they want to do. Everybody doesn’t get to do what they feel like doing. You’ve got to buy in and do what you’re supposed to do to be a part of the team and do the things you need to do in practice every day – a sense of urgency, play fast, execute, do your job.”
While the message was abundantly clear at that point, Saban wasn’t done, and went on to talk about the fact that it’s a privilege to play at Alabama, where players have more ability than almost any other school to create value for themselves as NFL scouts are constantly at practice, evaluating the Crimson Tide’s players.
“It’s a privilege for everybody to go out there and be able to create value for yourself,” Saban continued. “We have scouts at practice every day. Everybody thinks it’s just about playing in the game. It’s not just about playing in the game. They watch practice film. They watch guys every day. You guys on ESPN, you evaluate what happens in the game. But they evaluate what happens every day, what you do every day.”
From there, Saban continued by saying players, like Billingsley, have to do what it takes to create that value for themselves because through that, they earn the trust of their teammates to know that when the time comes and they’re in the game, they can be trusted to do their job for the team.
“But you’ve got to create value for yourself so that your teammates and everybody gets confidence in you so that you have their confidence when you go out there and play,” Saban said. “That’s up to every player on the team. I don’t make that decision for everybody on the team. I try to get them to do it. I try to point out the importance of them doing it. But it’s up to them to do it. So maybe that’s not my question to answer.”
All time Nick Saban rant after being asked about how Jahleel Billingsley can work his way back up the depth chart.
“This is not a democracy” pic.twitter.com/m6pB0VZFSC
— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) August 22, 2021
For an overwhelming majority of college football coaches, a player of Jahleel Billingsley’s caliber wouldn’t really have to earn his way back to the top of the tight end depth chart.
They would have simply given Billingsley a punishment that was tough enough for the rest of the team not to complain, but light enough for him to quickly meet the requirements to get back onto the field for game day.
But that’s just not how things work for Saban’s Alabama program.
It doesn’t matter to Saban if a player is a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy – if he’s not doing the right things on and off the field and working hard in practice, the weight room, and the classroom, that player isn’t going to play. Period.
He holds all of his players to a high standard, and simply will not budge on his expectations solely because a player is talented.
It may seem like an “old school” approach, but no one can argue with the results.
Or all of those National Championship trophies.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.