Did Nick Saban Play Football? Why Nick Saban Could Never Succeed in the NFL

Did nick saban play football ? PHOENIX, Ariz. — Despite the myriad of short jokes that Nick Saban has endured as a head coach, the 5-foot-6 leader of men did play college football.

A high school quarterback, he was set to go to Navy, perhaps as an orchestrator of triple-option offense.

The spring before he was to report to Annapolis, he changed his mind. His remaining scholarship options included Miami (Ohio), Ohio and Kent State. The Golden Flashes were one season removed from 1-9 and had not compiled a winning MAC record in 5 years.

Saban called Kent State “the worst program of the bunch,” but with an uncle living in nearby Canton, that’s where he felt most comfortable.

So, how was Nick Saban, a four-time national champion as a head coach, as a college football player?

“I was one of those guys that tried to be an overachiever,” he said Saturday. “I was a team guy. I played quarterback in high school and one year in college and then got moved to (defensive back), which is kind of what I always coached and what I grew up in professionally.”

A reporter mentioned to Saban that his reputation as a safety for the Golden Flashes was that he sought out contact and made more than a few pad-popping hits.

“I try to promote toughness with (my players),” Saban smirked. “I tell them all the time, ‘They just don’t make them like they used to.’

“I had a lot of fun playing. I loved the competition. But when I played, you played everything. When it was baseball season, you played baseball. Basketball season, you played basketball. Football you played football. I think there’s a lot of benefit to that. I certainly enjoyed it when I was young. I think that sometimes we encourage people to specialize too early.”

Saban then was asked whether he surprised anyone with his athleticism.

“Not anything like so many of the players on our team today,” he said.

Kent State won a MAC championship in 1972. Saban’s career ended without much notice. Future Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert was the star of that defense. According to Athlon Sports, he had an English class with Allison Krause, one of the unarmed students shot to death during a protest of the Vietnam War.

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The most significant football impact of his time in Kent, Ohio, was Saban’s admiration for coach Don James, who helped launch the coaching careers of Saban and teammate Gary Pinkel.

After graduating with a business degree in 1973, Saban became a graduate assistant for the Golden Flashes and eventually joined the staff.

“He was a fantastic person and class guy,” Saban said of James, according to Athlon Sports. “He was systematic about everything he did and defined what the expectations he had for everything in the organization were. He worked hard and did things the way I thought they should be done. He did a good job developing players there and a good job recruiting players.”

did nick saban play football

Nick Saban: From playing to the sidelines

After earning a business degree from Kent State, Nick Saban started a coaching profession that would ultimately come to define him. His playing background provided the foundation for his coaching style, as he could relate to the players more deeply and was aware of the demands and difficulties they encountered on the field.

Saban’s coaching career started at Kent State as a graduate assistant, where he polished his craft under the guidance of esteemed coach Don James. He has served in a variety of coaching capacities at a number of universities throughout the years, including Ohio State, Navy, Michigan State, and LSU.

When he was appointed head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007, Saban made a comeback in the world of collegiate football. Since then, he has elevated the program to new heights of success, making it a powerhouse that has won multiple titles at the national level.

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Although Nick Saban’s playing experience in football isn’t as well-known as his coaching accomplishments, it has had a significant impact on the man he is today.

It is critical to keep in mind the foundation upon which Nick Saban’s coaching legacy was built as he continues to make history in coaching.

Did Nick Saban ever play football? Learn about Alabama HC’s playing career

The famous college football coach Nick Saban has unquestionably left a lasting impression on the game. His coaching prowess is lauded for his unmatched success at the University of Alabama, where he has guided the Crimson Tide to numerous national championships.

However, Saban himself had a stellar playing career in football before he rose to coaching fame, which provided the groundwork for his future success.

He started his playing career at Monongah High School, where he excelled as a quarterback. College recruiters noticed his talent and leadership abilities right away, and he soon obtained a scholarship to play at Ohio’s Kent State University.

Saban played defensive back for Kent State, demonstrating his field pliability and adaptability. He was renowned for having outstanding instincts, a strong work ethic, and an unwavering commitment to perfection, characteristics which would subsequently come to define him as a coach.

Although Saban was a talented player, a tragedy occurred during his time at Kent State which cast a cloud over his time there and forever changed the way he saw both life and football.

The Kent State campus was shaken by a shooting incident in 1970 in which four students were murdered and nine others were hurt while protesting the Vietnam War.

did nick saban play football

Why Nick Saban Could Never Succeed in the NFL

What if the very essence of why Nick Saban is wildly successful as a college football coach also fuels the argument for why he could never be as accomplished in the NFL?

Indeed, what if the inherent differences between the collegiate and professional levels of college football mean that Saban’s mastery of one level predestines his lack of relative success at the other?

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To test this theory, it’s important first to understand the “Saban System” and how it has been so effective at pumping out championship-caliber college football teams.

Next, it’s key to compare and contrast the major elements of “the system” with the inner workings of the NFL to get a feel for the potential effectiveness of Saban’s strengths in the pros.

Of course, in the case of Saban, we also have the actual results from his two-year run with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins—he went 15-17 from 2005-2006. But, to be fair, this was before his wildly successful tenure at Alabama.

And you could argue that it has been with the Crimson Tide that Saban has mastered his craft and honed the finer points of the “system.”

So, first things first, what exactly is the “Saban System?”

From a very broad perspective, the “system” or “process” involves a carefully scripted path that begins with assessing incoming talent and ends with the NFL draft or commencement.

Potential Saban recruits are evaluated based not only on their athletic gifts, size and speed, but they are also measured in non-football related categories such as intellect and attitude—traits which the “system” considers just as important as who runs the fastest time in the 40.

Once kids are signed, they are trained, coached up and supported by a dizzying number of staff members, from sports psychologists, nutritionists and strength and conditioning coaches to academic counselors and even motivational speakers.

Simply put, no expense is spared as the “system” easily outpaces the rest of the FBS ranks in player care.

Beyond all this, and perhaps the key to the “system” itself, is the mental approach Saban takes which dictates that the road to success is navigated by focusing on each individual footstep rather than wasting time ogling the crystal football at the end of the horizon.

Basically, it’s focusing on the backbreaking work of the trees rather than fantasizing about the dream of conquering the forest.

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