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Oh yes Nick Saban is the latest great success story supposed to inspire a mediocre generation, something to bolster kids and parents alike to do better, reach higher, create standards; his methods, lessons going far beyond the field purportedly teaching integrity, responsibility, discipline, perseverance, importance of doing what your told, doing what you’re supposed to do and when, the difference between investing your time and wasting your time, Nintendo vs. homework was the example to a football camp of young people, reporters finding his words riveting. Unfortunately coach Saban, while he may have found the formula for winning games, found the solution to honing the best players, weeded out all the unsatisfactory tryouts in forming his later winning lineup, he is putting forth a prescription to fail at life; he is the latest in the tiger parenting model rollouts migrated to other areas getting press attention for accomplishing something in an era where no one seems to be accomplishing anything, there are no sound role models for young people and motivation has almost dropped out of the lexicon, or so we are lead to believe by watching some of the same news that also profiled him. A few viewers saw right though it at least; one asking what lesson was really learned and what was really taught during the firm talking to post eye roll while the coach gave handshake lessons in one clip, another appalled by the 19th century portrayal of a sports team exemplified by Saban saying in part his angry model is completely detrimental to getting kids to show up and do their best. Again comments made on the segment showcasing the kids’ camp not his work with college players. Still others questioned his peaching integrity when he said he would coach somewhere else and ended up at Alabama, a simple Google search of the man turns up allegations he misrepresented why 4 players left the team speculated to be for the sake of the program; calling them rule breakers sounds better than the wanted more, or actual playing time. He has been under fire for recruiting more players than the football program could pay for, leaving savvy viewers wondering where all the hard hitting, investigative journalism was, perhaps proving Saban is just a man, a man with a very flawed understanding of the world.

 Reality is no matter how much players love the man, say the things they learned playing the game under him will make them a better husband, father, worker, history and practicality prove it won’t; because when you attempt to hold your girlfriend, future wife to those perfectionist standards, she will likely walk away, as a husband when you tell her how she could do better at housework, at a community event, going back to work post having a baby, getting her feet wet in a new career, she will predictably do one of two things, burst into tears or become exceedingly angry because what she needed from you was support, encouragement, consoling, needed you to do as asked and help set up a display or watch the kids, deliver items to such and such place and maybe things would have gone better. She needed you to be happy whatever she went for was a success, not pick it apart because it wasn’t “perfect.” Take to task her mothering skills, the next place you are likely to land is divorce court, the kids are split between two homes and your both are still fighting like cats and dogs; at issue, she believes your too hard on them, you believe she is too soft, the kids are caught in the middle. She may split from you because you are too rigid, cold, aloof, so goal oriented in your career you have no time for her, seemed to have already mapped out your lives to a minute degree before she’s said yes, garnering little input from her, you appear not to be able to show love, affection to her, your children. If you yell and are prone to emotional outbursts such as the coach’s she may become afraid of you and what you will do should you become displeased with her opinion; in fact people who display off the field the type of behavior he does on it, in relationships, in public are prone to getting into fights, getting arrested or are demonstrating the warning signs of a domestic abuser, assuming anyone wants anything to do with you long enough to get to the dating stage in the first place. Quite an example the opposite of stability to present to a sports team operating on testosterone and the violence of rough play, considering incidents like Jovan Belcher; to be both fair and clear, no indications are given he would tolerate that type of behavior from players or exhibits his volcanic manner anywhere outside football. But it is defiantly something to think about.    

The problem with applying the manual for football according to Saban to life, particularly domestic life, anything outside sports, anything that is not a competition, is it’s not a competition; the goals in being a husband, a father, actively parenting your child are drastically different than the drills, fundamentals and so forth that will eventually lead to winning games, winning championships. Here’s how, following the Saban approach when your little one, still learning to dress themselves, needs help with a shirt or puts their pants on backwards instead of being happy they tried to dress themselves and gently rearranging their clothing, soothing their frustration they are not quite big enough to do it correctly yet, the parent will yell and admonish “how many times have I told you…” possibly make the child dress and undress themselves several times to get it right rather than being knowledgeable about the child’s age and normal development.  Only taking your child’s achievements and pointing out what they could have done better won’t encourage them to try again, won’t encourage them to try harder, won’t make them appreciate what you tried to do even later in life, independent of what the coach said about his own experience with his father, if it can be believed he appreciated all that criticism as he says;  it will in fact make them hate you, want nothing to do with you into adulthood because you could never just be happy they did a task well, got a C instead of an F or were brave enough to participate in the school talent contest. You misunderstood the aim of your child which was to make you happy by showing off a drawn picture of their family, make you smile, to have fun, experience the joy of creating, not render it exactly, perfectly in the likeness of family members. Yes it is a parent’s job to prepare their kids for the world but, borrowing phrases from two well know psychologists Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Kevin Leman, parents should provide kids a soft place to fall; now Dr. Phil originally meant this in terms of parents not involving children in adult problems, listening to them fight exc. However it applies here too; you run a huge risk if your children don’t feel they can talk to you about things for fear of a lecture or ridicule. Dr. Leman, known for both a Christian perspective and for writing dozens of books on parenting, stated accurately home needs to be a comfortable place to fail. Contrastingly Saban’s pillars of tough love create kids with an inferiority complex lasting into their adult lives; too timid to try anything for fear of failure, for fear of disappointing those they love, who feel too worthless or incompetent at anything and everything to function well in a job, a relationship.    

Forging the positives of ruthless efficiency and lack of clutter in your life, getting up at a specific time on the dot every morning, spending an extra 5 minutes in bed once and awhile A- won’t kill you, B- could lead to less stress and problems throughout the day because you don’t have to deal with the fall out of the person you pissed off by being a volcanic rage machine fueled by lack of listening to your own body,  entering your workplace with a gun, going on a shooting rampage, you suddenly don’t have to deal with the aftermath of a person who threw themselves off the top of your building thanks to something you said, in his world having his star player, a series of them quit because they, for their own sanity, can no longer deal with you. If you’re a boss having large sections of staff quit because they got a better deal, better pay, better work environment where their new employer doesn’t yell and scream like a manic depressive off their medication, where their  boss won’t treat them like out of control 5 year olds who don’t know anything rather appreciating their talents, skills and effort. It can save loads of time in the morning because you are alert enough not to be clumsy, dropping things, making a mess you then have to clean, forgetting half the things you need walking out the door. 5 minutes extra time in bed cuddling your wife, spending some alone time with your husband leads to less fights, less relationship tension. In all that efficiency you may miss a spouse or a child trying to tell you something important, when you slot in time to talk to people, your family instead of being calm, gentle, letting them bring up a difficult subject, you’re agitated, telling them to spit it out, acting like you don’t have time for them and don’t care, a horrible way to interact, especially with people you love. Ruthless efficiency leaves no room for stopping and smelling the roses, no time for spontaneity, flexibility. That kind of efficiency applied by students in school leaves little or no room for friendships, early networking becoming the deciding difference between you getting your first job and not, the friend who recommended you. But all hail Saban efficiency.   

  Relatedly Saban’s remarks to young players were riveting but not in the way the 60 Minutes reporter described; they are riveting in their shock value that a successful adult could get it so wrong, riveting in the sense of sending up red flags and warning bells to intelligent listeners some of whom struggle to get everything done in a day, who understand the profound difference in dealing with k-12 kids and college sports players a breath away from professional football aspirations. There are times you have to invest time in your wellbeing, your mental health perhaps by yes playing a dreaded video game, relaxing, doing something you enjoy to make life worth living, to avid burnout whether combating the over scheduling plaguing kids today or avoiding being an exhausted, strung out, overrun adult. Truthfully it is up to parents to model good study habits from the time their child begins to receive homework around the second grade; it is secondly essential for parents to recognize if their kid, which of their children can come home, use the bathroom, get a drink/snack and immediately begin completing their homework or do they need 15, 30 minutes to put the school day behind them have that time to themselves before tackling homework. Does your child need small breaks between work to focus and do their best work as opposed to trudging through it and it being finished yes, but sloppily? Find out what works best for your kids and your family then enforce those rules; never think the only key to your child being good, better, excellent in school lies in more study time, more homework designed and assigned by you to get them in what you consider shape academically. Never rule out the reason your child isn’t doing so well because of a possible learning disability, a bad teacher; listen to why they say they don’t like math, history, science and work with them to see how you can improve their perception of the subject and watch for talents they have inside or outside academics you can accentuate giving them confidence.  The larger lesson ignored is learning which things need to be done now, which things require that immediacy, that urgent intensity and which ones can wait, compromises that can be reached giving both parties parents and kids, later employers, part of what they want. Example just as there is nothing wrong with kids being given time to relax when they first get home, adults don’t like to be slammed with a to do list the moment they step through their front door, why do we assume because children are smaller they are any different, there is nothing wrong with a kid who says I will unload the dishwasher after I reach level 5 on game X provided when they do, they do what was asked, there is nothing wrong with them washing the dishes, cleaning their room, picking up their clothes during commercials of their favorite TV program. Sans time to read all local library books on dinosaurs, their favorite musician or zoo animals, cooking they lose a chance to discover an activity, a subject they are passionate about, they love that could be turned into a career opportunity. His speech to the football campers using homework vs. video games is especially ill-timed considering the poor return on investment kids are getting for their education, prep or public school, getting good grades, managing to get into college, graduate, come out and still cannot get jobs; his comments on being responsible for your own self-determination “meaning it’s nobody else’s fault” rings strikingly false today in the shadow of the mortgage crisis, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, people who lost jobs, 401K’s to the recession. And in their cases it can be somebody else’s fault when they want to play school football, when they bring the form home and their parent signs it fully aware of how many times a week they will have to drive their kid to practice, what time it starts exc. and they don’t do so, because these kids are too young to drive and walking may be out of the question due to distance, it being unsafe. Identical scenarios can be found with school, if you don’t understand your homework and no one in your house can help you with it, you can’t stay after school to use computers to research, to complete work because you ride the bus, watch younger siblings after school, the public library is too far way; welcome to the dilemma of poor kids nationwide.

No the Saban philosophy will not make you a better worker, perhaps maybe creating worse ones, while no one doubts he would advise players, persons trying to replicate his concepts to apply the team dynamic to your job, your boss being the coach, your coworkers being your team, once more it’s a recipe for disaster if you are constantly angry, frustrated because your boss doesn’t possess the same standards you do, your coworkers are not equally exacting on self and others as you happen to be. His distinction of a goal vs. a result is accurate, but the follow up directions speaking on intelligence and devising steps to achieve your goals doesn’t translate into the real world; you can aim to be a good person by helping the lady down the street you often see struggle to do task X, you can aim to improved your history grade by studying X minutes longer or asking your teacher  for tutoring, yet when you devise a career goal to enter a specific career field, obtain a certain job, become a newspaper editor, head football coach it’s not that simple or direct. Why, employers, persons in the business are either so busy or so worried about up and comings taking their jobs, they no longer are willing to tell people how to get there, job placement places, college career service centers are routinely filled with people who know nothing, can find out less on behalf of a student/client and we have an employment system that has abandoned the internship, apprenticeship rendering many college degrees worthless. Nor is it the best idea to push kids to be better in school when one article just described how being good at school makes you horrible at work, because the new workplaces are looking for innovators, people who can create the new thing, not people looking to be told what’s next in their education, people looking to be told what to do all day; this is backed up by countless kids who were wonders in school, pleasant for their teachers and absolutely flunk at life. Neither are you necessarily going to find ultimate satisfaction embodied in pride in performance, being the best street sweeper or shoe shiner you can be; maybe because you were never meant to be those things to begin with. If you have to go the extra mile not to scream at people in your customer service job, get dragged down by mopping those floors cleaning those bathrooms every day, you’re probably in the wrong job and need to change it ASAP; this is key because no matter how much you work on doing whatever it is well, you can never surpass someone with a natural gift for it. The biggest thing he got right is you can do this and still not be a success, not achieve that goal hints why people fall short of his understanding of standards, seem in need of tutorials like the ones he gave, because they recognize the world’s, the system’s brokenness where he does not. Recognizing it they have no interest in actively participating in the mess; their goal is to get by any way they can.   

Similarly the method doesn’t support the goals of an elementary, middle school team that is and should be centered around things like sportsmanship, teamwork,  physical activity, a structured, safe environment for kids after school, having fun in the process, the clip of the coach taking after the rules, lessons taught by Saban senior is cringe worthy not praise worthy precisely because that yelling, angry “I’m sick and tired of reminding you to get a good huddle” attitude is same kind of fright that will cause children to perform worse, cause them to quit the team and hate a sport they formerly loved because of how you tainted the experience for them, throw down their homework and never pick it up again if you react that way to a student trying to understand a concept, more so if you are a parent adopting these ways. Further coaches serve a much bigger purpose than just organizing a team, teaching life lessons; much of what coaches do is provide a positive influence on a child’s life, giving them someone to emulate, someone to look up to, someone they can go to with problems, someone they can trust that’s not their parents. Even at the college level young adults usually 18-22 need this as they navigate into the real world for the first time. Where is that in either Saban model, the one by Saban senior used by Nick Saban’s high school teammate now coaching the still existing team or the one used by Nick Saban himself in all the places he’s coached, “made a difference,” including Alabama; nowhere from what 60 Minutes watchers saw. Remember not all athletes play college sports hoping to be in the NFL, the NBA, play major league baseball using it instead as a ticket to college, who want to play one last time before they have to give it up for a job, a career. Facts crushingly devastating if the kids on his hometown team, in the football camp, any program taking cues from Saban, have no other male influence in their life to teach them to be gentle, to teach them to handle emotions other than to explode, because they see you doing it; should they disappoint him their world appears over. Another of the reporters spoke to his nerves interviewing the man, how he makes you desperately want to live up to his expectations because you don’t want to get the look, you don’t want to get Saban-ed, which is sick in some ways that we encourage one person to have that much power over another. Broader meaning, it’s a case of call me when one of his players, probably kicked off the team for a minor infraction, starts drinking heavily, abusing drugs to get that disappointed voice out of their heads. Call me when one of his players, one of the players of the former teammate, one of the kids from that football camp kills themselves because they couldn’t live up to the standard set by the their coach. Is that the legacy we want for humanity, for our kids?               

Addressing his claims about mediocrity and the perception mediocre people don’t like high achievers and high achievers don’t like mediocre people, wrong; people distance themselves from, resent high achievers who either think no one can reach the rarified air they inhabit or believe you have to be an equally high achiever, usually in the same arena, to be worthy or their time, worse, worthy being acknowledged as a fellow human being, to be deemed worthy of breathing on the planet. It tracks back to his advice to the campers about don’t get defensive when you get coached, your being taught not criticized; but underlying which it is, is the tone. People react defensively when you bark rather than speak, when you demean and belittle what you failed to notice was indeed their best effort, when you take zero time to notice something else is wrong with a player, a worker, when you can’t praise a job well done. However mediocrity much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder; you may hold what others  interpret as a mediocre job because it pays your bills while still allowing you to enjoy gardening, the hours allow you to be something besides a holy terror at work, you genuinely like what you do, the people you work with.  Perfection, like pride in performance, often translated into being at the top of your career field, highest job in your workplace, is not everything some of the greatest inventions and discoveries were mistakes Penicillin to name one, the band 10,000 Maniacs should have been named the 2,000 maniacs if they truly intended to lift it from the horror flick they saw, went on to unquestionable achievement and the story behind the name is much more interesting for the faux pas, John Mayer had to attend summer school to get his high school diploma but he knew what he wanted to do, and was not only very good at it, but very good at making it happen. Famous college dropouts encompass names like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, one founder of twitter alongside the creators of both Word Press and tumblr. 90’s hit singer Tracy Chapman was originally told by music producers to tune her guitar, the first copy of Harry Potter was rejected by publishers probably kicking themselves they missed out on a multibillion dollar franchise; now Saban might categorize these cases under perseverance and the need for it if you are going to achieve any goal. Yet the bigger picture is, neither example made major changes to what they had to offer; JK Rowling took another opportunity to publish the first Harry Potter book, Tracy Chapman made no alterations to her guitar or the style of music she chose to present and fans loved her unique sound.      

Unfortunately for all the success, all the good attributed to what he had done and how he has done it, Nick Saban is a sad little boy trapped inside of a man, still today at 62, who can’t get the disappointed voice of his father out of his head. That disappointed voice driving him to the edge and taking everyone with him, being a bully the same way he was bullied because he knows no other way to get people to do what he wants. A boy, a man who has never learned you can have standards, reach for excellence in what you do, what you lead others to do, without being an explosive tyrant, without being one screaming match away from a stroke, heart attack, aneurism. He doesn’t understand you command loyalty and respect through your actions as opposed to demanding it or using your position to evoke the twisted awe demonstrated in the 60 Minutes footage; top qualities generating said respect, compassion, understanding, sensitivity to situations, gentle guidance put forth vs. orders given, love pure and simple absent any conditions, stipulations. He fails despite all his accomplishments not just because he feeds a trend of always being on, the extremes we push people to, to know everything, the insatiable frenzy to be the best at everything, never being satisfied with where you are, what you have, even if it’s a good place, but rather because he believes it’s never enough. His work or someone else’s, it’s never enough; nothing is ever finished. He fails at his more important goal of role model less because he refuses to do one of the most important things in a position such as his and show others he is not perfect, he can make a mistake and the best thing you can do when that happens is do all in your power to make it right, and more due to he has far more negative qualities than positive ones he’s attempting to give to the world, pass on to the next generation.