Great post from Chris Bahn, formerly of ArkansasSports360.com website, who now writes for SBNation’s ArkansasExpats.com.
Schools want to mimic the process Saban has implemented at Alabama. ADs are falling over themselves to find somebody capable of winning the way the Crimson Tide win. Remember, purists see what Alabama does as "real football."
Maybe what a program like Arkansas needs is somebody on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. An anti-Saban, if you will.
It might be more beneficial — and sustainable — if Arkansas resists the temptation of finding a guy who wants to build the Razorbacks in Saban’s image. What Alabama (and LSU and Florida) does seems so simple: Play defense. Run the football and mix in some play action on offense. Play some more defense. Win.
Rinse. Repeat. Seems easy enough, right?
Bahn has a point. Nick Saban is no fan of spread offenses, nor are many fans of SEC football. The notion that a spread offense won’t work in the SEC is a subject of intense debate. Proponents point to three national championships won by teams with spread offenses. Florida won two; Auburn won one. Detractors point out that nether Florida nor Auburn would have won those titles without stud QB’s that simply don’t come around often enough in college football for the philosophy to win consistently.
Both sides miss the point.
The Process isn’t about a particular offensive or defensive philosophy. It’s about doing all of the little things right so that the big things are always within your grasp. It doesn’t matter if you’re an offensive wizard or a defensive genius. What really counts is that the coach and his staff have developed a certain mentality on the team. Physically, emotionally and mentally, Alabama is one of the toughest teams in the country. They do all the little things right, and as a result, they win football games. Lots of’em.
Look at it this way—despite one of Alabama’s worst performances in the Saban era, they still had a chance to win at the end. That fact isn’t because of a great scheme or great offensive or defensive strategy. It was because even down 20-0, Alabama had conditioned itself as a team to think they can win even in the worst of circumstances.
If you’re hiring the Anti-Saban in terms of football philosophy, it’s all good as long as the toughness and one-mindedness is there. If you’re hiring the Anti-Saban in terms of team discipline, player development and retention, well… Hello, Auburn. How’s that 2012 season going for you?
It won’t matter who Arkansas hires. Or Auburn, or Kentucky, or maybe even Tennessee. If the coach doesn’t create an environment of self-discipline and self-motivation, no amount of wizardry will produce the long term results those programs crave.
Hire a coach like Kevin Sumlin, who appears to have all of the right motivational and organizational capabilities along with a potent offense and it’s game on.