Going to Be Some Changes

It is the theory of many who study such things that organizational culture does not occur gradually. Cultural change within an organization either occurs with a very swift upheaval, or it does not really change at all.

And on the one-week anniversary of Nick Saban's introduction as Alabama's head football coach, it certainly appears that a seismic change is underway with the Alabama football program with Nick Saban at the helm – at least (or especially) in terms of relations with the media. Saban held a rather informal, but very informative news conference on Thursday, and the getting-to-know-you portion of the Saban Experience continued.

The former coach at Alabama often said that he was unable to control the information that swirled in the media, so he tried to avoid taking in what was being said as much as possible and to get his players to do the same thing. One of the underrated qualities of Mike Shula was his brevity. Press conferences didn't last too long and it wasn't difficult to anticipate what would be said.

The exact consequences of that coach's ignorance to the things happening outside the walls of his office, and not being much of a participant in controlling the information, can be debated, but it certainly didn't help him as he tried to maintain a grasp on his job.

The new coach values the power of information, and the importance of controlling it. He intends on his program speaking with one voice – his own. He called Thursday's news conference, he said, because he was going to be out of pocket on the recruiting trail for a while. It was a signal that he intends on being available when he is here.

Saban held his first team meeting on Thursday, and used an adaptation of the now popular advertising campaign that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

"One of the things I told them is what we talk about in that room stays in that room," Saban said.

"I'll be honest with you. It's important that we're able to do business and function without the whole world knowing," he said. "How information gets out is important to being successful, and that's in no way disrespecting what you all have to do."

He used "respect" no less than four times in relation to the media's job covering him, after being stung by the Miami media (and some national guys) who felt slighted at circumstances surrounding his departure.

"We want to give you the information, but sometimes when it gets out there before it should it doesn't help us," Saban said. "And I know that's not your job" to help the team.

"Do I need to say more relative to my case?" he said. "Take the media out of everything that happened to me and I would have no issues in my life. Would have not had any and wouldn't have any. Now, I respect what y'all do but that was all created by speculation and innuendo about what was going to happen and it was always way ahead, the horse was always way ahead of the cart on that one."

This is going to be like the cartoon where Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf entered work together each morning with a certain amount of respect for one another, then as they punched the time clock Ralph went to work trying to catch and kill the sheep while Sam protected the herd. When they clocked out and the day was over they were buddies once again, sauntering off to their respective places after logging a hard day's work.

Or at least that is the hope.


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