Burke draws complete picture in Saban biography


Monte Burke’s new book “Saban: The Making of a Coach” takes a unique look at Nick Saban.  Courtesy of Mark Mayfield

Kayla Montgomery, CW Staff, Peyton Shepard

For the last eight years, Nick Saban has been the face of Alabama football. His sideline antics and press appearances have earned him a very distinct reputation in the college football world, but Forbes magazine’s Monte Burke paints a different picture of the coach in his book Saban: The Making of a Coach. The Crimson White spoke with Burke to learn more about the making of his book and the making of the man that has become an Alabama icon.

Q: What was it like for you personally to delve into the life of someone who is considered one of the most enigmatic men in college football?

A: It was funny because you read some articles where he’s presented as sort of a one dimensional person, and I think to a certain degree sometimes, the public persona is a man who just eats, sleeps and breathes football all the time. He’s naturally shy and introverted, so he doesn’t necessarily come across as very warm in public settings, so I was interested to dive beyond that, and obviously what you see on the sidelines – recruiting, when it comes to coaching, when it comes to managing his players and assistant coaches… but here is also a person who is incredibly indecisive when it comes to career shifts. I think he’s a lot more sensitive than people know, and I think he’s also incredibly loyal.

Q: In the process of researching Saban was there anything that really stood out to you about his life or his personality?

A: I found it really interesting to find out how shy and introverted he is in public settings…There’s that part, then there’s the part that I witnessed firsthand when I was with him. Despite his shyness and introversion in public settings, in very small intimate settings, he’s one of the most charismatic people that I’ve ever interviewed. I’ve worked at Forbes for 15 years now, and I’ve interviewed plenty of big shot CEOs and billionaires, but Saban’s charisma is stronger, if not stronger, than most of the people I’ve interviewed, and I think that plays a big part in his recruiting success.

Q: How important was Saban’s father to what Saban has become here?

A: It’s immeasurable. His father would be proud of him now, I would think. I would hope anyways. The reason that the first chapter is called The Diamond is because it’s an attempt to rip off the pressure on coal. It’s the pressure his father put on him that formed him. There’s a quote in there from one of his buddies who says, ‘I thought, seeing the pressure his father put on him, I thought he was either s going to be crazy, or a great success.’ It probably could have gone either way.

Q: Terry Saban: Is it correct that she’s much more involved with everything he does than what people realize?

A: Her influence is huge. … She is a wonderful, sweet, but very strong woman. She is a huge driver behind Nick Saban the man, and Nick Saban the success.