Bobby Bowden in the Saban film Gamechanger: "Toward the end of my career, I didn't coach. I let the assistant coaches coach."
Tucked into an interesting feature in GQ Magazine on Alabama coach Nick Saban, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden praises the uber-successful Crimson Tide coach… while also admitting that successful coaches have a tendency to get a little fat and happy:
“The thing that amazes me about him is that he doesn’t let up. People start winning, they slack off. But he just keeps jumping on ‘complacency, complacency, complacency.’ Most coaches don’t think like that.”
The piece — titled “Nick Saban: Sympathy for the Devil” — a good read. But the Bowden quote stands out as it shows two things. First, that Saban is different from most other coaches. (Steve Spurrier can probably be put in that same category.) Second, that even a legendary coach like Bowden can admit that sometimes winning coaches do grow complacent.
That idea has long been kicked around with regards to numerous SEC coaches who’ve won big only to start winning small. This writer has found it hard to believe that people geared toward winning ever lose the desire to win. Instead, I’ve stated — and I still believe — that a bigger problem for successful coaches is the ability to adapt to changes in their environment. If you’ve had success doing X, why change X? Even if everyone else is now doing Y.
But Bowden’s comment is an interesting one. Because it shows Saban’s strength. And because it shows a potential weakness that successful coaches must fight to avoid.