Arguably the best coach in the history of college football thought for a moment, after losing in a blow-out, that he’d never win another game.
Last night, after winning his fifth national championship, University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, was asked by a reporter about his legacy and where he might fit in with the all-time greats.
After saying that wasn’t something he thought much about, he recounted an exchange he had with another coaching great, Tom Osborne, after Saban’s Michigan State Spartans lost big to Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers. As the two coaches customarily met in the middle of the football field once the clock ran out, Osborne said something Saban remembers to this day.
“You’re not as bad as you think.”
According to Saban, that encouragement from a widely-respected leader in the game, gave him hope. That was in 1995, his first season as the head coach of Michigan State. The team ended the season 6-5-1. The following year, the Spartans fared significantly better, finishing 9-2.
After leaving MSU and a subsequent less-than-mediocre stint with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Saban was hired by one SEC (Southeastern Conference) school, Louisiana State University (LSU) whom he led to a National Championship in 2003, and then another, Alabama.
Under Saban’s guidance, the Crimson Tide have won National Championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, and now 2015. He’s coached twenty-six All-Americans (not counting the 2015 season) and helped bring the first Heisman Trophy to Tuscaloosa in 2009. In the past five years, four Alabama players placed in the top three Heisman finalists with Derrick Henry winning the award last month.
It’s not about individual recognition, however, but team success. This year, Saban’s Tide was referred to by a former NFL player as the NFL’s 33rd team. That is how consistently dominant they’ve been in recent years.
And it all goes back to, “You’re not as bad as you think.”
We should all take that advice to heart. None of us are probably as bad as we think. Sometimes, we are our own worst critics. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have bad days. Bad plays.
It’s our response to those bumps in the road (or worse) that determine our success or not. Alabama lost a game to Mississippi last fall, a sin that could be deadly in the world of college football. But, under the leadership of Nick Saban, the team got up, dusted themselves off, learned from their mistakes, and plowed ahead.
After blowing a comfortable lead in last year’s playoff to eventual champion Ohio State, the theme of this season for the Tide was Finish. Finish. Finish.
If we learn from our many mistakes, we have a chance to succeed. If we never stop believing in ourselves, there is no limit to what we can achieve. If you believe it, you can achieve it, to said Derrick Henry in his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech. And if you’d like more inspiration, learn how far Derrick traveled to get to where he is now.