When Alabama fell to Clemson in the national championship back in January, several factors contributed to the loss. But for UA coach Nick Saban, it may have been the lack of a single factor that led to the Crimson Tide’s downfall.
“To me, we kind of have the Alabama factor around here that has always helped us be successful,” Saban said National Signing Day in February. “… And I don’t think we played in that game with the Alabama factor. So everybody needs to understand that and respond to it.”
So far this spring, Saban and his staff have worked hard to restore the “Alabama factor.” That was the first thing Saban mentioned he wants to reestablish after the Crimson Tide started practice about two weeks ago.
The phrase is now ever present around the football facilities, so much so players have taken notice.
“I hear it a lot,” defensive back Xavier McKinney said. “I didn’t hear it as much last year, but I hear it a lot now.”
Offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. remembers learning about the “Alabama factor” when he was being recruited by the Crimson Tide almost three years ago, but he says it has never been emphasized as much as it has been lately.
“Every day,” Wills said. “And definitely this year, it’s a lot bigger. Just don’t want to create any bad habits like we did last year.”
But what exactly is the “Alabama factor?”
For Saban, it’s not just a slogan he has implemented this offseason. It has been a part of his coaching style for decades, even though the “Alabama” part of the phrase was added after he took over the program in 2007.
“I didn’t come up with it,” Saban said. “It’s been who I am for the last 27-some years. It’s been who we are ever since we’ve been here. You could ask someone who played on the first, second team here that went 12-0 and lost in the SEC championship game and they could recite and tell you exactly what that is. So it’s not a slogan. It’s really what the program’s built on.”
With a bevy of new coaches and a number of starting spots yet to be decided, there’s a lot for Alabama’s players to focus on this offseason. Nonetheless, Saban’s mission to restore the “Alabama factor” will underlie everything the Crimson Tide does over the coming months.
A variety of traits truly make up the “Alabama factor.” It’s not just one thing.
“Commitment, discipline, effort, toughness, pride,” Wills said. “And then developing yourself to be relentless for 60 minutes in the ballgame.”