Nick Saban = College Football Genius

College football throws millions of dollars and countless man-hours to seek any kind of competitive millimeter of an edge. What does Nick Saban do? He coolly finds a way to add yet another mile between Alabama and the pack.

Being a bit of a wordsmith in a previous life, your humble scribe continues to be amused with how the more recent generations tend to mangle the language.

“Best ever!” this and “Most awesome!” that … the meaning and weight of words seems to have been dumbed down.

Not here, alas. And not with the following carefully considered statement:

Nick Saban is a college football genius.

You read that right. Genius.

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Oh sure, you’re scoffing at your computer screen. He has five national titles – four at Alabama – on his resume! He has to be a genius!

Saban’s stunning success isn’t why I bequeath the Genius Tag on him. Instead, it is for consistently and confoundingly finding new ways to gain an edge where one never even thought to try.

Not true. There are some relative simpletons out there who have hoisted the hardware. Phillip Fulmer, yeah, we are looking at you.

Saban’s stunning success isn’t why I bequeath the Genius Tag on him. Instead, it is for consistently and confoundingly finding new ways to gain an edge where one never even thought to try.

The most recent example came to light first when ESPN trotted out Blake Sims in full uniform before the Texas A&M game. No, Sims wasn’t modeling a throwback (horrors!!), but instead being a three-dimensional illustration of Saban’s genius. You see, Saban brought Sims back to Tuscaloosa to spend time being Texas A&M dual-threat quarterback Trevor Knight ON THE SCOUT TEAM leading up to the Tide’s 33-14 victory over the Aggies.

A couple days after being let go by the Atlanta Falcons following a 12-day stint with the team, Sims just so happened to be available and in need of a place to keep his skills sharp.

Enter Saban.

“Well, you know, Blake just got released,” Saban told AL.com. “So he was looking for some place to work so that he had a chance to get better. And based on our situation at quarterback and the kind of guy that we were playing against it was really convenient to have him here to help us.”

Alabama was in the clear, of course, thanks to NCAA bylaw 14.2.1.6, titled “Exception — Former Student Participating in Practice on an Occasional Basis.”

The bylaw, which was adopted in March 2011, reads, “A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.”

Saban doubled down last week, too, by inviting former NFL players Trent Richardson and John Parker Wilson to respectively mimic LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Danny Etling. Wilson actually didn’t even know why he was being invited to practice at the time – until he was given the details and handed some pads once inside the inner sanctum of the Mal Moore Football Building.

“We try to stay on top of the rules,” Saban said. “We have people in our administration who do a good job of letting us know what we can and can’t do and we would never do something like that unless we got it approved by the SEC office, which we did, and the NCAA.”

This, humble reader, is RAW GENIUS. While not quite watching Edison fiddle with filaments in a glass container in Menlo Park or Einstein scribbling variations of E+MC2 on a chalkboard, how Saban managed to find this kind of wrinkle is amazing.

College football coaching staffs and administrations are throwing millions of dollars and countless man-hours to seek any kind of competitive millimeter of an edge they can find to maybe inch closer to Alabama.

And what does Nick Saban do? He coolly finds a way to add yet another mile between Alabama and the pack.

That is genius. That is Nick Saban.

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