Call him whatever you want, Nick Saban doesn't care
HOOVER, Ala. — Call him whatever you want.
No really, any of the following will work: Coach, Nick, Coach Saban. Shoot, there was even one time last season where a reporter just called him “Saban.” It doesn't matter.
Nick Saban has better things to do than worry about how he's addressed by members of the media. Contrary to popular belief, the head coach isn't offended when reporters refer to him by his first name. In fact, he couldn't care less about the often-awkward interchange that proceeds questions during his press conferences.
“Look, I respond to just about anything,” Saban said with a smile during his appearance at SEC Media Days. “I’ve been called just about everything, so that’s not something that’s really important to me.”
It’s about time Saban set the record straight. Over the past year, there’s been a bit of a debate on the matter.
Things initially heated up in December when a reporter addressed the head coach by saying, “Hi Saban.” That prompted a highly-circulated Facebook rant from a former sports anchor, who stated his opinion that it is disrespectful to greet Saban by his given name, Nick. The topic regained traction Tuesday during the SWAC Media Day in Birmingham, Ala. when Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders walked out of the event after a reporter addressed him by his first name.
"You don't call Nick Saban, 'Nick.' Don't call me Deion," Sanders told Nick Suss from the Clarion Ledger.
The NFL Hall of Famer continued to voice his discontent with the treatment, giving a misinformed example of how interviews with Saban work at Alabama.
"If you call Nick (Saban), Nick, you'll get cussed out on the spot, so don't do that to me," Sanders later added. "Treat me like Nick."
Saban didn’t mention Sanders directly Wednesday but alluded to the situation during his response.
“I think everybody should have the opportunity to sort of create or make the way their expectation is of how they get addressed,” Saban said. “It's not something that's really that significant to me."
To be clear, Saban has never sworn directly at a reporter. Outside of an occasionally overly-chatty caller during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference during the season, the head coach rarely expresses any annoyance when it comes to the greeting part of a question. That comes later when hypotheticals, assumptions or any mention of the depth chart enter the conversation.
Even Lane Kiffin knows the drill by now.
“You guys say something that upsets him and gives him rat poison and makes him mad, and then we have to deal with that,” the Ole Miss head coach quipped Tuesday. “So I don't know what the storyline is this year. It will be something that you did about losing too many staff guys or the quarterback or whatever, but he just finds a way, and it starts with recruiting. He just does such a phenomenal job of recruiting.”
There weren’t many testy moments on Tuesday as Saban discussed a variety of topics including COVID-19 testing, name, image and likeness rights as well as how his team plans to repeat as national champions. He certainly didn’t bat an eyelash when asked about salutations from reporters.
Just don’t bring up the depth chart, aight?