Nick Saban in July 2018. Jul 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban addresses the media during SEC football media day at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s incredible what can be subjected to quantitative data analysis if someone is committed enough and has enough time. The latest thing is an in-depth analysis from reporter Matt Stahl of how much Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has smiled during all of his preseason press conferences over the past six seasons.

The notable conclusions there? Saban “has spent 3.42% of his total preseason press conference time smiling in 2023. That’s more than double the percentage of any year from 2017 onward.” The lowest percentage in the sample was in 2020, when “Saban smiled just two times that year, for a total of 28.74 seconds, 0.43% of the total press conference time and 0.25 smiles per availability.” (However, that comes with the caveat that many of those pressers were done over video calls due to COVID-19.)

Is there actually anything notable here? Well, Stahl concluded that “there’s little discernible correlation between Saban’s preseason camp smiles and the eventual success of his Alabama teams,” with the Tide winning titles in both 2020 (Saban’s least-smiley preseason year) and 2017 (his second-most smiley preseason year).

But this is interesting for seeing at least part of Saban’s mood in the preseason in each of these seasons, especially when we’re now again having conversations about Saban’s interactions with the media.

This is a thorough and impressive analysis from Stahl, and it’s nice to have actual data on Saban’s smiling rather than just anecdotal observations that he’s “smiling more.”


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.