Thursday, November 29, 2007

Whose Catastrophe?: The Narcissism of Nick Saban

by Carl Stoffers

We've all heard the quotes—Alabama head coach Nick Saban comparing his team's loss to Louisiana-Monroe to September 11th and Pearl Harbor, as well as to an alcoholic hitting "rock bottom."

As the university tries to do damage control, Saban has remained silent—perhaps because he has both feet inserted firmly in his mouth.

"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event," Saban said after the loss. "It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event."

And Saban wasn't done yet.

"They talk about alcoholics and people like that who never ever change until they hit rock bottom," he continued. "Well, they change because when they hit rock bottom they have an awareness, they have an acceptance and a commitment to change. That's what our players need to do right now because the past two weeks since the LSU game, I haven't seen the same spirit, the same work ethic. That's something we have to get right."

The shocking thing about the comments isn't just Saban's insensitivity—it's his narcissism.

However Alabama tries to spin it, it's entirely clear that Saban was indeed comparing the loss to the disasters. And that speaks volumes as to what's going on inside the coach's head.

The loss to Louisiana-Monroe was a 9/11-type catastrophe for Saban. In his little world, losing a football game to an opponent he considers unworthy is on par with the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

If Saban had had a relative or friend who perished on 9/11, maybe he wouldn't feel as comfortable drawing comparisons between a mass murder and a football game.

Or maybe he'd have a better understanding of where a game stands in terms of life's priorities.

In any event, I'm not angry with Nick Saban—I feel sorry for him.

We all should.