Always on and never satisfied, that's Nick Saban for you.
Alabama had its bye last week, but that didn't mean it was time to kick back and relax. Not for a coach as obsessive as Saban.
"I don't think you can ever just forget about what you're doing," the Crimson Tide head coach said. "I don't care where you go, where you stay, that's not going to happen. I leave town for a day, but I take everything with me."
Three of the nation's top five teams were upset last Saturday, but Saban didn't pay too much attention. The games were merely on in the background while he watched film of recruits, Thursday's practice, or "somebody that has something to do with improving our situation here."
That's always been his thing and part of his famous "process." You can't control external variables, so keep the focus on your own team, your own goals and your own success.
Saban admitted to taking a "mental break" and being able to "chill out for a bit" during the bye only in terms of shaking up his routine and not preparing to play a game that particular day. That time, he said, is important during the open date in order to "sustain the level of intensity" that's necessary to finish off the season.
It's like a water break. Take a sip and get back in there.
Alabama is sitting high atop the polls at 5-0 right now. The Tide has outscored its opponents 201-35, including shutouts of Western Kentucky and Arkansas in back-to-back weekends by a combined score of 87-zip.
But after every win, Saban the perfectionist has come to the post-game press conference with a list of areas where his team must improve.
He's good at bringing his team back down to Earth after wins.
"No matter what the score is, if you make a mental error, he's going to be on you hard," said sophomore safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. "He doesn't want us to get too overconfident and lose focus on what we have planned for this year."
Former Saban assistant and current Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain recalled not too long ago on a conference call that after Alabama beat Texas to win the 2009 national title, Saban didn't celebrate, but instead called a staff meeting for 8:30 the next morning to discuss recruiting and the next season.
"He shook our hands in the locker room and said thank you," McElwain said.
"We'll have time to celebrate. We'll have time to look back when we get done. There's always work to do and that's the key. The key is making sure that you stay on top and don't let any detail get loose."
Fans can rest assured no detail is loose from this year's team. Not when Saban is as meticulous as he is.
"He treats everyday like it's his last," said junior linebacker C.J. Mosley. "He's the first one in every day and the last one out…I'm pretty sure he's got a little bed back in his office."
Mosley was only half-kidding.
That intensity is why the Tide has won two national championships in three years and is on track for another. It also explains why Alabama has—so far—been able to refute comparisons between this team and the one from 2010.
Next on tap for the Tide is a trip to Missouri where the Tigers are 0-3 in conference play. But despite that record and the fact that their starting quarterback James Franklin is out with a strained knee, Alabama knows it can't take a step back.
Even if Saban didn't watch Shakeup Saturday in its entirety, he knows what happened to some of the top teams in the country and if it happened to them, it sure can happen to Alabama. And that's what he's preaching to his players this week.
"There's a lot of parity in college football," Saban said. "I think what [last weekend] proved is that the only thing predictable about college football is that it's unpredictable."
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