Mr. Sports: Nick Saban molds great men

By Bob Labbe
By Bob Labbe

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban is a man of commitment. His philosophy of staying on course on and off the field is one of remarkable success. In his tenth season Saban has led the program to the top of collegiate football claiming four national championships and winning almost four times as many games as he’s lost.

Saban builds character in his players and his program at Alabama. Many times making an average performer into a professional athlete through commitment.

One player that knows is former Alabama All-American and current starting offensive lineman for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers D.J. Fluker. He took time to recently speak with me about Saban and said commitment is what Saban stresses. Fluker added, “For us, commitment meant buying into being good even if you’re not the best player, as he makes you the best player and then eventually a great player.”

Fluker, whose initials stand for Danny Lee Jesus, was discovered by Saban at McGill-Toolen Catholic High in Mobile, and became one of the mainstays on the offensive line at Alabama. Fluker moved to the Mobile area from New Orleans where his home was completely demolished by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Having discipline in your assignment and in school is what Saban teaches you and he makes sure you understand life, not only as a player, but as a person as well,” Fluker told me. “He shows the parents of the players he recruits their sons are not only going to be a good ball player, but being an educated student as he’s going to be a student-athlete first. That’s his goal. That’s why the players love him so much, because he does so much for them as he protects them by knowing their issues and help solve those issues.”

Fluker was open to what makes the Alabama football so strong under the leadership of Saban. He told me you must be willing to listen and follow instructions. “You have to be a follower to become a leader. You have to learn how to follow to learn how to be a leader.”

Saban is known as a non-nonsense type of coach and when most of us see him on the sidelines during a game he’s intense and strictly there to make sure his team performs to the best of their ability and strongly follows the theory of if you do what you’re instructed and have the mindset to be committed winning will happen.

The 6-foot-5, 340-pound, 25-year old Fluker added, “Saban is like a dad away from home. He really molds guys into being great men.”


What has become two of the most important games of the college football season are this Saturday as Alabama travels to LSU and Nebraska takes on Ohio State. Both contests will play a big part in each of the conferences the teams represent and playoff ramifications as the 2016 season heads into November.

Here is the TV lineup for this week: Thursday, Nov. 3, Oklahoma-Iowa State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN) and UCLA-Colorado, 8:00 p.m. (FS1). Saturday, Nov. 5, Navy-Notre Dame, 10:30 a.m. (Channel 19), Air Force-Army, 11:00 a.m. (CBSSN), Georgia Southern-Ole Miss, 11:00 a.m. (ESPNU), Texas A&M-Miss State, 11:00 a.m. (SEC), Vanderbilt-Auburn, 11:00 a.m. (ESPN), Wisconsin-Northwestern, 11:00 a.m. (Channel 31), Florida-Arkansas, 2:30 p.m. (Channel 19), TCU-Baylor, 2:30 p.m. (Channel 54), Missouri-South Carolina, 3:00 p.m. (SEC), Tennessee Tech-Tennessee, 3:00 p.m. (SEC-Alternate), Georgia-Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. (SEC), Nebraska-Ohio State, 7:00 p.m. (Channel 31) and Alabama-LSU, 7:00 p.m. (Channel 19).


The pro hockey dudes will return to their home ice at the VBC this week as the Huntsville Havoc will play this Friday and then return home for a Thursday Night match on the 10th. This Friday, the Havoc will host the Election Night Jersey Auction as each fan is asked to dress as their favorite President. Next Thursday will be Hockey Night in Huntsville with $2 hot dogs, sodas and beer.