Monday, September 29, 2008

A study in maniacal focus

Dan Wetzel has a great article on Nick Saban, a coach trying to keep his team grounded after a big win on the road this past Saturday night.

According to Wetzel, despite beating third-ranked Georgia, "Saban looked as if he had stepped in one of UGa’s dropping, not the coach that had humiliated No. 3 in their house. His fans might have been dancing to the band, but he could barely remember the 31-0 first half thanks to an intensity lapse that let Georgia make the score respectable."

Said Saban in the post-game press conference [video here]: “We got outscored 30-10 in the second half. That is not how we want to play and we should not be happy about that. I hope we learn. Can we finish games when we didn’t do it tonight? Can we finish a season? Can we play with consistency?"

According to Wetzel:

"Twice in his postgame media conference Saban banged his fist on the table, aftershocks of frustrations from some bad, if unimportant, play. He went on long tangents about mental strength. Every bit of praise was followed by twice the criticism.

He frowned even more than usual. He already had chewed out the team for five minutes in the locker room. He already had gone on and on about the dangers of embracing success.

He’s a study in maniacal focus, a sight to behold. It isn’t his fun demeanor that earns him $4 million per year.

His human side can remain hidden. He doesn’t care. He knows he’s beloved for his ability to deliver glorious football nights like this one. In getting a roster turned around so quickly. In getting a team so focused it can walk into a Sanford snake pit and score on its first five possessions.

It’s his ability to get Alabama back to powerhouse status, a force to be feared across the league. It’s how he’s not the slightest bit satisfied at doing it."

One of Coach Saban's players seems to understand his coach's demands:

"He's looking for something to make you better," safety Rashad Johnson said. "He wants us to play perfect from start to finish, that's the kind of coach you want that's not going to accept this because we didn't finish off the way we want to and the way he wants us to."

[Coach Saban's concern about his team losing focus after beating UGA reminds me of the old saying: "The arrogance of success is thinking that what you did yesterday will be good enough for tomorrow."]