Coach Lew Johnston (Photo: Sarah Murphy/recruit757)
Coach Lew Johnston talks about Nick Saban and team dynamics
by Lew Johnston, a special contribution to recruit757
I thought that Coach Saban’s emotion-filled remarks after the national championship game were quite revealing.
Yes, he has some very talented athletes! But, so did Ohio State. What got my attention was when Coach Saban stated that “these guys ‘bought in‘ to ALL of the principles that our program is built upon.” If you have not read about/studied Saban’s “Process“, you need to do so— soon!
I have a good friend who is a die-hard Bama fan. We talk a lot about the Tide when he calls. One thing that he pointed out, as did the announcers last night during the broadcast, is that Nagee Harris did not “jump ship” to go to the NFL at the end of a disappointing season last year. I believe that except for Tua, no underclassmen bolted. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) That, to me, speaks volumes about the culture that Coach Saban has created in Tuscaloosa. Those guys are 1) committed to success and… 2) committed to that Alabama program. How does that happen?
Obviously, winning solves a LOT of problems. But, there are other winning programs that have guys leave early for the NFL or exit through the Transfer Portal. Not so much for Bama. This culture is something to be studied. I think it shows that Saban builds from the inside>>>out. That means that when they recruit a high school player, they look at his character as much as they look at his athletic talent. You, as a high school coach, should consider doing the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for giving a young guy a second chance.
Kids are going to mess up. There were very few times in my 30 years as a head coach that I “banned” a player from my program. If a player quit and then changed his mind, I made the initial decision as to whether we were going to even consider letting him back on the team. If he passed my initial examination, then he had to appear in front of the team leaders. He had to explain to them why he quit. They would then talk about it and take a (secret) vote on whether to allow him to return. If the captains/lieutenants hadn’t been selected yet, I put it to the whole team. The player had to apologize to his teammates and ask permission to be reinstated. Remember: I made the initial determination as to whether I wanted him to talk to his teammates. If I felt that his attitude was not contrite nor sincere… or simply, if I did not want a “bad apple” spoiling the whole bunch. He never got to go any further with his appeal. It was stated in the contract with the players that I had the right to dismiss anyone from the team at any time during the year if I felt that his behavior or attitude was detrimental to the team.
Sometimes, guys, you’re better off without that superstar! Part of your job is winning your players’ respect. If you look the other way in a situation like this… where a starter or a star is caught breaking a team policy… your players will lose respect for you. Lose their respect, you lose their allegiance. Lose their allegiance, you lose their heart. They stop wanting to play for you. I’ve seen it happen. I know of what I speak.
– Lew Johnston
You can buy Coach Lew Johnston’s new book, The Best Is Still Yet To Come on Amazon.