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In Cleveland, hope dies last

The process that rules college football started at Kent State

We finally had a chance to work our way through Sports Illustrated‘s college football preview issue and the article on teams working to imitate Nick Saban’s success at Alabama caught our eye.

Saban has developed what is known as the Process. According to SI:

In its most basic form, the Process is Saban’s term for concentrating on the steps to success rather than worrying about the end result. Instead of thinking about the scoreboard, think about dominating the man on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of thinking about a conference title, think about finishing a ninth rep in the weight room. Instead of thinking about graduating, think about writing a great paper for Intro to Psych.

And it all started at Kent State, where Saban played and coached under Don James, the last coach to lead the Golden Flashes to a bowl game.

James developed three sets of criteria for recruiting players and, borrowing the idea from former Colorado coach Eddie Crowder, did not allow his assistants to watch film of recruits. Instead, James wanted his coaches to base their evaluations and form their opinions only after watching recruits play in person and talking with their high school coaches.

James also worked to improve the academic support system for his players, something that Saban has carried with him through his coaching career.

“He really was into the personal, motivational, moral development,” Saban told SI about James. “There was a belief there that who you are mattered in terms of how successful you were going to be or how you played.”

Saban also had another Ohio-based influence. As defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick from 1991 to 1994, Saban learned how to get the most out of his coaching staff and players.

“Everybody says, ‘Be accountable,’ but sometimes nobody ever tells you exactly what the expectation is,” Saban told SI. “Bill was good at defining what he expected from everybody, and everybody buying in. Then the team had a chance to flourish because of it.”

The rest, as they say, is history as Saban-coached teams have won three of the past nine college football championships (LSU in 2003, Alabama in ’09 and ’11), and the Crimson Tide are among the favorites again this year.

Saban may be finding success in the deep South, but the roots of that success are squarely in Ohio.

So remember that while watching tonight’s game between Alabama and Michigan. Because, really, how can anyone expect a school from Michigan to beat a team with such a strong connection to Ohio?

(Photo courtesy of Kent State Media Relations)

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2 thoughts on “The process that rules college football started at Kent State

  1. Pingback: While We’re Waiting… B1G Brotherly love, Saban’s Ohio roots, Bowden’s Akron Debut, and Richardson’s Readiness | WaitingForNextYear

  2. Pingback: While We’re Waiting… A New Un-Level Playing Field | WaitingForNextYear

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