Nick Saban is famously a curmudgeon.
The best illustration of that was probably when he won the national championship and then privately complained that the game had cost him a week of recruiting.
But with each Saban press conference comes a new opportunity for crotchety behavior, and yesterday’s preseason media gathering was no different. This particular target was preseason prognostication, which Saban derided for multiple paragraphs worth of ranting:
With the Tide’s opener against Florida State looming on Sept. 2, Saban was asked how (linebacker Christian) Miller was faring in practice. That was all the opening Saban needed to start venting.
“Oh, I don’t know. You guys make all these predictions about everything, about guys who are going to be great players, that have been here for two years. Who’s gonna win all the games? I don’t even know why we play,” Saban told reporters. “Why do we even play? Why do we even have practice? Why do we compete? Why do we coach guys? How they need to improve. I mean, you guys got all the answers to how guys are gonna be, what they’re gonna do.
“Sometimes I wonder … why do we play? Why do we even have practice? Because you guys have got all these conclusions already drawn about who’s what, how good they are, what they can do. So why would you ask me? That’s what’s puzzling to me. Why would you ask me? I read stuff all the time, like, ‘Oh, that’s nice to know. Where’d that come from?’ And then you ask me?”
Saban, of course, is smart enough to realize that all of these preseason predictions aren’t media members attempting to preempt the season. Saban is going to make more than $11 million this season, a fantastically high salary driven by the intense interest in the sport as a whole, his team in particular, and his own talent. But with that intense interest comes an appetite for things like preseason predictions, rankings, and debate. It’s the ultimate dissonance, when football coaches (and coaches in other sports, but football has a special variety) act shocked and dismayed that the media and fans actually want to know things.
Again, though, while Saban’s routines are probably somewhat legitimate venting, they’re also more for motivational purposes as well. They always have a hint of self-awareness, and this one was no different:
Saban then cracked a smile and chuckled as he answered the question amid laughs from the media gathering.
“But Christian Miller has done a nice job,” he said. “He’s had a really good camp. He’s doing a good job. He had a lot of production points in the scrimmage, so we’re really happy with the progress.”
Nick Saban is really good at just about every aspect of his job. Managing press conferences included.