Nick Saban can achieve what’d be his “greatest coaching feat yet” in 2023 if he were able to propel Alabama past the likes of Kirby Smart’s Georgia and Brian Kelly’s LSU in the SEC and the usual suspects (Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Florida State) nationally, according to Saturday Down South’s Keith Farner.
“This feels like the kind of season where you don’t count out Saban, but it’s also difficult to see how it all comes together,” Farner wrote. “There are plenty of talented players, but are there new Bryce Youngs and Will Anderson Jrs.? Getting back to the top of the college football world this season could be Saban’s greatest coaching feat yet.”
Farner noted the in-conference competition from Georgia and LSU — and potentially even a party-crasher like Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M — in assessing Alabama’s path towards a fourth SEC championship in four years.
“Saban’s process is well known, but it will be put to the test this season. Not only does Georgia have a relatively soft schedule, but LSU is as primed as ever to reach Atlanta again,” Farner noted. “Even people like Paul Finebaum believe that Texas A&M could build momentum and become a major threat in the SEC West.”
Analyst Wonders if Nick Saban is Still Ahead of Kirby Smart
Farner openly wondered if Saban was still the undisputed top coach in college football in his lede given the uncertainty under center for the Crimson Tide, pointing out that two straight seasons have gone by and the same team won both — and it wasn’t Alabama holding the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy.
“Certainly Saban has changed quarterbacks in the past after a legend departed, and coordinators commonly arrive and depart,” Farner prefaced before saying, “But this is certainly a challenging time for Saban, who still draws praise for being the top coach in college football around media circles, even though Kirby Smart has won the last 2 national titles.”
Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and former Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will be back for a first and third term in Tuscaloosa under Saban in 2023, respectively.
Nick Saban Acknowledges Different Standard For Alabama
Saban told ESPN’s Heather Dinich during an interview first aired during a March 29 episode of SportsCenter that he knows there’s a different standard for Alabama than every other program in the country.
“Anytime we don’t get into the national championship game, there’s a standard here that everybody sort of has an expectation,” Saban said. “We want our players to focus on what they need to do to get there, not the outcome, but what we have to do to get the outcome, and I think everybody in the organization is trying to figure out, ‘OK, how do we go about this in a way that’s going to help us get there.’”
He then noted what the Crimson Tide coaching staff needs to do to be more aligned, and thus, more disciplined in 2023.
“The players, the coaches and everybody in the organization because we have a high standard of what we want to accomplish, and what we want to do,” Saban said. “We need to get everybody to buy into that and understand the importance of doing the little things that will help them get where they want to be and where we want to be.”