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Big Man on Campusby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
© August/September 2012
On April 27 last year, a massive EF4 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama at 5 PM. The storm skirted the University of Alabama campus and narrowly missed hitting Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the Crimson Tide. The funnel cloud could be seen from Head Coach Nick Saban’s office. The tornado missed Saban’s home by a few yards.
The destruction was devastating. Over 5,000 buildings in Tuscaloosa were either damaged or destroyed. Over 50 people lost their lives. The city was plunged into a rebuilding process – repairing not just damaged property but also broken lives – that will take years. Saban and many of the Tide players have spent months in the community, helping in any way they can. He has become a leader in the effort to put the city back together – someone that residents look to for more than just football wins.
It’s been said that living through such an experience changes people. Not necessarily because of the frightening moments of being near a killer storm, but because of the way a community unites in the aftermath of such an event. Some of those around Saban say the experience of the Tuscaloosa tornado has changed him – in the words of Bill Reiter of Fox Sports, given him a “suddenly deeper connection to Tuscaloosa after the storm.”
What hasn’t changed is Saban’s overriding desire to win championships. He’s won two out of the last three BCS titles with the Crimson Tide. Add the championship he won at LSU in 2004 and he has the distinction of being the only coach to ever win national championships at different schools. Alabama enters the 2012 season with a legitimate shot at another title despite losing a boatload of talent to the NFL. With his accomplishments and his ability to contend at the highest level year after year, Saban is considered by many to be the best coach in college.
It’s hard to say what has united Tuscaloosa and the Tide faithful more – winning two national championships in three years and the revival of the Alabama program or pulling together in the wake of a devastating natural disaster. But one thing is certain. Nick Saban has earned a permanent place in the hearts of Alabama fans and Tuscaloosa residents for his accomplishments on the field and his devotion to the community.
In this issue of AFM, we celebrate the kickoff of the 2012 football season with a profile of Saban and an analysis of key elements that he considers essential for a successful program. We were fortunate to be able to spend time with Coach Saban recently and, as we do with all coaches who contribute to AFM, we appreciate him sharing his wisdom with the coaching community.
Also in this issue, we hear from eight spread coaches about the defenses that give them the most problems and how to deal with them. Plus, we have eight other coaches who share their experiences, their strategies, their plays and their drills – all in an effort to help you be a more successful coach. Finally, we cover a topic, thanks to Coach Brent Steuerwald, that every coach has to deal with but is rarely addressed – the roles and responsibilities of team managers.
From everyone at AFM, we wish you great success in the season ahead!
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