Alabama football coach Nick Saban believes a team’s success depends on its leadership.
The last time the Crimson Tide won a national championship was 2017-18, and that season had players like Rashaan Evans, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Bradley Bozeman. There’s a reason they were all named team captains by their peers.
Looking at the 2019 season, Saban is still waiting for the Crimson Tide’s new set of leaders to come forward and declare themselves worthy.
“To be quite honest with you, we haven’t selected a leadership team yet because I told the players on the team, ‘You’re going to have to earn your way on that by what you do on the field,’” Saban said. “Being a good player is not going to do it. Being a good leader is going to do it, and we’ve had some guys step up and do that. Hopefully they’ll continue to do it by the example that they set, by how they support other players and try to help other players for their benefit.”
Alabama just wrapped up its sixth practice Tuesday. There will be another one Thursday before the team’s first scrimmage Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The A-Day game is then two weeks away.
To aid the process, UA plans to host a leadership seminar for the team.
“I want to see people take leadership roles every day,” Saban said. “You don’t turn leadership on and off.”
This wasn’t the first time since spring started Saban has addressed leadership. He did so a week ago in a similar manner.
“All the good teams that we’ve had around here, the team that we have won championships, we’ve had the kind of leadership that helps people sustain through the tough times,” Saban said last Wednesday. “And they demanded that everyone sort of adhere to the standard, it wasn’t just the coaches preaching that.
“So I think that’s important, and it really makes it special when you have the best players on your team also be the guys that are the best leaders.”
Looking at its starters alone from last season, Alabama returns a quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa), a running back (Najee Harris), a defensive lineman (Raekwon Davis) two offensive linemen (Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills Jr.), two linebackers (Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses), four defensive backs (Shyheim Carter, Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney and Patrick Surtain II) and four wide receivers (Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle).
McKinney, Moses and Wills have all vocally expressed they’re ready to be leaders this year. Tagovailoa has showed his teammates he’s ready to take on a bigger role, too.
So, Alabama has options. But actions speak louder than words.
“It’s going to be important if this team is going to reach its full potential that we have good leadership,” Saban said. “We’re going to work really hard to try to develop it.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.