TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A recent poll of sports fans published in Forbes Magazine named Alabama coach Nick Saban as the ninth-most disliked person in sports.
But ask Decatur High graduate and Tide linebacker Rolando McClain, and he will tell you about the other side of the fiery leader who once yelled at an NFL player long enough to make him cry while coaching the Miami Dolphins.
“A lot of people don’t know coach Saban,” McClain said. “They just see some up-tight guy, and people think he’s angry. But he just wants to bring the best out of you. He likes hard work, and he works extremely hard. We like how he is toward us. We know he’s just trying to push us to be the best we can be.”
Nose guard Terrence Cody said he has seen the softer side of Saban when he gets away from the world of football.
“He’s relaxed when he’s out at his house,” the All-American said. “But he’s still working.”
A search for online Saban videos on YouTube turns up footage that shows the difference between Saban on the field and off. Among the 730 hits that come up under a “Nick Saban” search are several passionate answers to news conference questions as well as a news clip from a Miami Dolphins practice in which rookie Manuel Wright left the field in tears following a lecture from Saban.
On the flip side, there is a crude cell phone video posted in 2007 that shows the coach in a non-football setting doing the popular “Cupid Shuffle” dance. Thanks to the nature of Web videos, Saban’s fun side was viewed more than 126,000 times since being posted Dec. 26, 2007.
Wednesday was a one-practice day for the Tide, sandwiched between two-a-days Tuesday and today.
By the time the team gets the day off Sunday, it will have practiced eight times since Monday in the busiest week of the August schedule. The Tide will have one more two-day practice in Aug. 17 before starting classes Aug. 19.
Bad weather forced Tuesday’s second workout to be moved into the university’s newly renovated indoor practice facility for the first time of the preseason.