Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Saban’s winning ways eclipse his surliness
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach, in the 3rd quarter vs Arkansas Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
When Dan Enos quit at Alabama, he did so quietly.
So quietly, it wasn’t discovered until a staff meeting when someone was dispatched to go find him.
Since that person didn’t go to Miami, Enos wasn’t found.
Enos was supposed to be promoted to offensive coordinator, but after the Crimson Tide were walloped by Clemson 44-16 in the national championship game, it seems Nick Saban wanted to discuss it some more.
Shortly after that, Enos got the chance to escape and did so without so much as a goodbye.
It is widely believed Saban is a difficult boss. He demands as much from his assistants as he gives, and that’s 24-7. The day after hip-replacement surgery, Saban was in the office working.
He’s such a disciplinarian that players must make an appointment to see him. If you see him coming, you might high-tail it in the other direction. He doesn’t believe in small talk.
But the dude can coach football.
He’s so good he could be elected governor of Alabama and not even run. The man has too many championship rings for one hand, so he has to borrow a digit from his other hand.
Throw out his first season at Alabama, and he’s 139-15. That’s more than 90% wins.
He’s won everywhere he’s been besides the Miami Dolphins, and that might have been different if the brass had signed the quarterback Saban wanted, Drew Brees, who was coming off a shoulder injury.
Last season, the Tide returned only 10 starters and all they did was go 14-1.
They were so talented and so deep that two of last season’s quarterbacks will start this year: Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma.
One of them probably will win the Heisman Trophy.
That would be a fun matchup in the championship game, and don’t ever count Saban out of that game. The Sooners might need some luck with only 12 starters back, including four on offense not counting Hurts.
Alabama has 12 starters back, including Tagovailoa and superstar receiver Jerry Jeudy.
The Tide do have to replace three starters on the offensive line, and Saban might make something of that at next month’s SEC Football Media Days. But he’s signed so many five-star offensive linemen, he just has to whisper “Next.”
Alabama has forced the SEC to become the premier football conference in America, so much so that despite Clemson winning two of the past three championships, many pollsters have the Tide No. 1 in the preseason because Dabo Swinney has to replace eight starters on defense.
Expect the Tide to be 7-0 when they host the University of Arkansas, which has lost 12 consecutive games to the Tide. Saban has never lost to the Razorbacks while living in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide will cruise to 8-0, then face the toughest part of their schedule when they host LSU, go to Mississippi State and — after crushing Western Carolina — close the season with a trip to Auburn.
After that, they’ll probably play in the College Football Playoff.
Over the past 10 seasons, Alabama has won five national championships (Saban won one at LSU, too) and played for the title two other times.
So fans don’t care if his players have to go through a secretary to speak to him.
They don’t care that Dan Enos preferred to disappear from Tuscaloosa rather than take another earful from a guy who is an animated expert at telling coaches they aren’t doing a good job.
It almost seems a certainty now that Alabama will win either the SEC or national championship, and sometimes both.
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