Nick Saban has shown in his eight years at Alabama that he is supportive of all sports. The cynical believe that he wants a good basketball program in order to have a better atmosphere in Coleman Coliseum when football prosopects come on official visits in January. But that does not explain why Saban also makes visits to almost all other Bama sports – men’s and women’s – as they approach big events. He has been known to speak to the gymnastics team, women’s tennis team, baseball, softball, golf, etc.
Following Alabama’s spring football practice Wednesday, Saban said, “I don't want Alabama to be just a football school. I want to be good at football. We have high expectations for what we want to accomplish.
“But I really want us to be good in everything. And I've tried to be very supportive of all the other coaches here, including the basketball coaches, had a really good relationship with Anthony Grant, had a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person and as a coach, and really feel like we did everything we could do to help recruit players and support the program as much as we could.”
Saban’s good relationship with a basketball coach goes back at least to 1995 when he and Tom Izzo were hired as head coaches in football and basketball, respectively, at Michigan State. Although Saban moved on, Izzo remains with the Spartan and is regarded as one of the nation's best basketball coaches.
Saban said, “Tom Izzo and I are still really good friends. Probably one of my best friends, I've talked to him a couple times.”
Saban talked to Tom Izzo? What about?
Saban said, “We have a little family pool - so I don't want to get in any trouble thinking that I'm gambling on this NCAA tournament - but I actually had to change my bracket before the tournament started because I talked to Tom and he said, ‘If we can beat Georgia, I think we can beat Virginia.' So I had Virginia beating them, but I picked them, so I've got insider information.”
Saban concluded, “I think it's important to have relationships. I think when you're good in everything, in this day and age, there's a lot of attention whether it's women's softball, tennis, our gymnastics program here, our golf program men and women's, basketball, baseball. I want to be good in everything and I've tried to be supportive in every way to help them to recruit and to support their programs.”
Saban may or may not become directly involved in Bama’s search for a new basketball coach, but his support of the program can’t help but be a plus for Alabama Athletics Director Bill Battle in his search process.