The Rushmore Report: How Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s Faith Impacts His Coaching

The Alabama Crimson Tide play in the semi-final game in their quest for another national championship this Saturday night. Prohibitive favorites, Alabama is clearly the superior program in college football. It’s not even close. As Saban nears iconic coach Bear Bryant’s record of six national championships, he is opening up about his faith. And it is that faith that helps him prepare young athletes to be the best they can be.

A devoted Catholic, he was asked by a reporter, “Does your Catholic faith play into the success of your career as a football coach?”

Saban answered, “I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that character, moral development – they are a part of leadership.” He continued, “I look at it as, we always say, ‘God have mercy,’ but that mercy is not a well. It’s not a cistern. It’s a channel that should run through us to other people. That’s part of what we try to do for our players so they have a chance to be more successful in life.”

Saban was also asked about the new student center at his church, St. Francis of Assisi University Parish in Tuscaloosa. It is called the Saban Catholic Student Center, obviously named after the famous coach.

Said Saban, “We’ve tried to raise money for it as well as making a significant contribution ourselves. My wife, Terry (married 44 years), is very involved in it. We have a lot of Catholic participation by our students here. We felt it would be great for them to have a place where they can go to socialize and develop the kind of relationships that might be helpful to them and their faith development.”

The Sabans started attending the church when he took over as head coach in 2007.

Saban has also been honored with a statue on campus at the University of Alabama. Whether he wins his record sixth national title or not, he will continue to lean heavily on his Catholic faith, and impart the blessings of faith to his players and staff.

About the Author

Mark Heim is a sports writer for the Press-Register newspaper and, based in Mobile, Alabama. He has covered the football program of the University of Alabama for the past 16 years.

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