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November 3, 2013

Saban on 60 Minutes

CBS' 60 Minutes, the network's long-running magazine news program, was granted unprecedented access to the University of Alabama football program under head coach Nick Saban. Cameramen and reporter Armen Keteyian spent a combined eight months documenting Saban for a national audience and what it captured told the story of "The Process," Saban's mission statement.

The story, which ran Sunday night, didn't provide anything revealing for hard-core Crimson Tide fans, but it did provide a few illuminating anecdotes.

The report opened with the words of Keteyian: "While the rest of college football maybe chasing Nick Saban, Nick Saban's chasing something else: Perfection."

In one of the opening scenes, Keteyina asked why Saban was so tough, so demanding on people. Saban said he doesn't see it that way.

"Well, I don't know if that's fair that I'm really tough on people. We create a standard for how we want to do things, and everybody's got to buy in to that standard or you really can't have any team chemistry. Mediocre people don't like high achievers and high achievers don't like mediocre people."

Freshman cornerback Eddie Jackson got his fair share of camera time. Early in the report he's shown stretching with the offensive lineman to which Saban quipped, "You an offensive lineman or what?"

Later on a player shows up late for a team meeting because he's busy taking his earrings out.

"The No. 1 thing: Be on time. Because it shows you care," Saban said. "All you're telling me is your earrings are more important than your damn football."

At his annual summer camps, Saban is shown chiding young players for not shaking hands.

It's told that when he recruits a player he likes to have every play of the player's high school career. "I watch that guy. Every. Single. Play."

The report also delved into his softer side through the family's charity, Nick's Kids. Nick's Kids has re-built 15 homes after the April 17, 2011 tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa.

It's the first times in 42 years that I've ever seen him totally put football aside," his wife Terry Saban said.

Keteyian marvels at Saban's "Process," asking in a sport judged by the scoreboard how Saban can build his program by not focusing on the score.

"The approach is to challenge the players to play every play in the game like it has a history and a life of its own," Saban said. "And try to take the other team out of the game and make it all about us. It really is the simple way to do it, and it's the best way to do it. "

Shown as an example is the play during the BCS National Championship Game in which Barrett Jones shoves AJ McCarron. Alabama led 42-14 at the time.

"They're still trying to get it right, which to me is the kind of pride in performance that you want in the players," Saban said.

When Alabama Chancellor Robert Witt was asked if Saban merits the more than $5 million he makes a season, Witt responds without hesitation.

"Nick Saban's the best financial investment this university has ever made. We have made an investment that's been returned many fold."

The story also took viewers inside the locker room after Alabama's win over Texas A&M.

"I'm so happy, happy, happy that I can't tell you. I'm so proud," Saban said.

Keteyian also probed Saban's happiness in Tuscaloosa. Could the Sabans look for a new challenge somewhere else?

"There's not the University of Mars, which is a better place. You know?" Saban said. "There's not that. So now it's easy to be comfortable here."

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or 205-722-0229.

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