He’s won 3 national titles in 5 years. He’s coached a Heisman Trophy winner. He’s had one of the top recruiting classes for years. He’s had numerous players make it into the NFL. There’s no doubt in my mind that he could change his way of offense by speeding it up, be he chooses not too. Why? Because Nick Saban’s a traditionalist.
At Alabama the players may change year by year, but some things stay the same. Bama football uniforms have been the same for many years. “I think what we wear is a lot bigger than me, and a lot bigger than anyone,” Saban said. “It’s what everybody’s expectation is of what they want to see when Alabama plays football and what they’re used to seeing.”
Those same expectations also apply to the way the game is played. Alabama is a school built on tradition, and that’s exactly why Saban doesn’t want to change the pace of the game. People are arguing that Saban is scared to speed the game up, but that is not the case. The reason Saban doesn’t want to speed up the game? Injuries.
Alabama’s slower-paced offense not only helps the offense gather themselves for the next play, but it also helps the other team’s defense get set before the snap, preventing injuries. A team that has a faced-paced offense not only adds extra plays, it adds more injuries because the players aren’t set, and they don’t have a few seconds of recovery time.
There is no doubt that Saban could create a championship winning, fast-paced offense but he chooses not to. He has chosen to keep his players healthy, and he has chosen to keep college football the way it has been played for many years.
The NCAA has been changing college football over the past few years. With the removal of the BCS, and the addition of playoffs, teams are already playing more games than in previous years. If the NCAA continues to allow a fast-paced offense without any down time, athletes will also be playing more snaps per game, causing injuries— ones that are simply preventable.
My opinion is that Saban’s stand on preventing injuries will have a positive effect on future recruiting for Alabama. Young athletes and their parents will take into consideration all of the other teams who just want to win, or impress, by using fast-paced offenses and who discount possible injuries to athletes. Those same recruits will look at the ridicule and accusations Saban has endured these past weeks, and they will remember how Saban stood up for them when they are deciding which school to choose.