How Nick Saban brought an NFL mindset to college football

by Ryan Aber Modified: August 27, 2013 at 9:00 am •  Published: August 25, 2013

The result of the system has been fewer recruiting misses for Saban's teams. If a player doesn't fit into the system, he isn't pursued.

“Nick's vision translated into the grading system, and that translated into players,” Glier wrote. “You scout inside out, not outside in. You scout for players that fit what you do inside your building as opposed to looking for players here and there. You define what you want, and when the player fits the criteria, you're interested.”

Some SEC coaches say Saban's success isn't due to the system but the place where he coaches.

“He's got a nice little gig going, a little bit like (John) Calipari,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN.com last year. “He tells guys, ‘Hey, three years from now, you're going to be a first-round pick and go.' If he wants to be one of the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they've always won there at Alabama.”

But the Crimson Tide didn't win much in the decade before Saban's arrival. From 1997-2006 under Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione and Mike Shula, Alabama went 51-55. Shula was 10-23 in the four years before Saban's arrival.

Some programs, in the SEC and elsewhere, have tried to use similar systems but no program has yet taken it to the level of Saban's teams at LSU and Alabama.

“If you don't have an anchor system, you can get caught up in the fog of confusion in scouting college players and recruiting high school players,” Savage said.

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by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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