Nick Saban, are you difficult to work for? ‘I don’t know,’ he says

The Alabama coach has replaced seven assistants this offseason, which led to that question during SEC media days.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Published July 17

HOOVER, Ala. — Alabama’s offseason was unusually turbulent in some ways, with coach Nick Saban replacing (or having to replace) seven assistants.

Among them: Quarterbacks coach Dan Enos bolting to become the new offensive coordinator at Miami, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley taking over Maryland and defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi leaving to become an assistant with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

That led to this question Wednesday morning at SEC media days: Are you difficult to work for?

[ MORE SEC MEDIA DAYS: Are the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes still rivals? ]

“Well, I don't know,” Saban answered. “You have to ask some of the people that work for me.”

Great idea, but Saban only lets those people talk to reporters once or a twice a year. Anyway…

“Always interesting that, you know, they may say that, but then when they get a job and they go do it, they do it exactly like we did it,” Saban said.

He’s right there. Jimbo Fisher instituted his version of Saban’s Process at Florida State, which led to the 2013 national championship. Kirby Smart is doing the same thing at Georgia.

That doesn’t mean Saban is easy to work for. But it does mean that whatever he’s doing works.

One of Saban’s new assistants is safeties coach Charles Kelly, who was a popular scapegoat in Tallahassee for FSU’s slide at the end of the Fisher era.

“I think Charles Kelly has been a wonderful addition to our staff,” Saban said. “He’s very knowledgeable. He’s got great relationships in Alabama and our part of the country in terms of his experience in recruiting, very knowledgeable coach, great relationships with the players, really gets along well with the people on the staff and makes a real positive contribution to the defensive staff, in general, because of the knowledge and experience he has having been a coordinator. And it’s very, very helpful to the development of our defense.”

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