Saban’s greatness lies in his adaptability

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Saban strolled off the plane in frigid Indianapolis with a look that got his players’ attention.

Somehow, the 70-year-old coach keeps finding ways to relate to guys young enough to be his grandchildren.

This time, it was a leather bomber jacket.

”His jacket was very cool,” Alabama safety Jordan Battle said. ”I haven’t seen Coach Saban in style like that. To see that he has a little swag, it kind of brings joy to my heart.”

Saban may come across like an inflexible curmudgeon, but he’s really more of a chameleon – forever transforming, forever reshaping, forever making himself relevant to those who play for him, no matter the generation gap.

It’s why, after all these years and well past retirement age, he remains the most dominant figure in college football.

It’s why, as his mighty Alabama dynasty prepared for a rematch against Georgia in another national championship game Monday night, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Bryce Young, his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, said the key to Saban’s greatness is ”how he’s adapted over the years.”

”The game has changed since he’s been coaching.” Young said. ”The players, the landscape of college football, college football in general, has changed.”

It’s certainly changed for the Crimson Tide during Saban’s 15 years in Tuscaloosa.

He’s a defensive coach at heart, someone who would be content to win every game 10-7. Indeed, that philosophy worked just fine in the early part of his Alabama tenure, as he began to collect national championships at a rate that would surpass everyone who’s ever coached the game.

Just a decade ago, his title-winning team led the nation in every major defensive category, allowing just 8.2 points a game.

But the sport has evolved greatly since then, and Saban has come along for the ride.

His 2020 team won all 13 games to give…


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