1. Saban took a chunk of his coaching philosophy from Bill Belichick thanks to the four years he spent as the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 1991-94 before leaving to take the Michigan State job before the last of Belichick’s five years in Cleveland.
“Y’all ran us both out of Ohio,” Saban said with a laugh.
But Saban took a lot of Belichick with him.
“He defined everything in the organization. Everything,” Saban said. “The standard for personnel, what kind of players we wanted, what he expected from the coaches, what he expected from the players on our team. Everything was defined, clearly defined. We had one sign in the building – ‘Do Your Job.'”
2. Saban and Urban Meyer may be able to relate on this point. Alabama was the two-time defending national champion and 11-0 and No. 1 last season before finishing with two losses. Ohio State was 24-0 to start Meyer’s career in Columbus before ending last season with two losses.
“I hate to say this, but sometimes a group needs to lose, they need to lose,” Saban said. “They lose their respect for winning. And I love our team, I loved our team last year. It’s not like we had a bad team, but compared to the championship teams, there was a little bit of complacency in terms of buying in. This year’s team has a lot better chemistry. Whether we have the same talent or the talent at the right positions to be capable of that, I don’t know.
“But losing the games helped everybody gain a perspective for winning and not taking things for granted and the importance of paying attention to detail. And maybe that’s the only way you can learn.”
3. “Mediocre people don’t like high achievers. And high achievers have no tolerance for mediocre people. So if they’re going to co-exist in your organization, you’re going to fail. You’re never going to have any team chemistry because they won’t respect each other.”
4. “We don’t have a sign in our building – never have, never will – that says win championships. We don’t have anything in our building that says win the SEC, win the national championship – never have, never have.
“We have a sign that says, ‘Be a champion.’ Everybody talks about there’s no ‘i’ in team. But there is an ‘i’ in win. And that ‘i’ is for individual, because the individual makes your team what it is.”
5. “When you raise the trophy up, when you win a championship, as soon as you put it down, you become the target for everybody else that competes against you.”