Former Bama player explains what it means to get an ass-chewing from Saban

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday September 13, 2016

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Lane Kiffin was the latest victim of a Nick Saban blow-up, but a former Alabama player knows what it’s all really about.

Greg McElroy has been on the other side of those “ass-chewings” from the coach. When McElroy saw Kiffin chewed out late in Alabama’s 38-10 win over Western Kentucky and saw Saban say he’d never been so disappointed in his team after a win, it was nothing new for McElroy.

This is not at all surprising. When the team plays well, he uses the media to try to get a point across to the players,” McElroy said on College Football Live. “When the team’s playing well, he tries to cut you down a bit and say, ‘We can work on this and do this and we’re not near capable of how we can play.’

“When the team’s not playing well, I think about two years ago at Arkansas on the road. Alabama won narrowly 14-13, and I remember Nick Saban getting up and ranting and saying ‘This is a good team. If that’s not good enough for you, then so be it, but we won the game and last I checked it’s all about wins and losses.’ He uses the media in various ways.”

McElroy also said Saban’s tough talk is all just part of the culture. No one is above anyone else. Bret Bielema says he won’t yell at assistants in front of players, but McElroy says Alabama players know what it’s all about, and Saban didn’t overreact.

“Not at all, because I know the reason he’s doing it,” McElroy said. “The offense is playing well, but not executing at a high level, not running the ball as efficiently he would like. At the end of the game, there’s no reason whatsoever to run a cross-motion jet sweep that results in a fumble and gives the other team an opportunity to score. It was a little too cute when it comes to play-calling.

“I remember me, I’d be sitting there, and he’d call me into his office before practice and say, ‘Just so you know, I’m going to get on you hard today.’ I’m thinking to myself, oh my goodness, the first time I mess up, I know I’m about to get it. The reason why he does that is he doesn’t want anyone in the organization to feel as though they’re superior. It could be the starting quarterback, it can be the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, the All-American middle linebacker. Everyone needs to be treated the same, and that’s the point Nick Saban is trying to get across.

“We’ve seen players on Alabama, national championship team in 2012, Barrett Jones and A.J. McCarron pushing each other up big against Notre Dame. You play until the final scoreboard reads zeroes in the time column. He’s just trying to get his point across and emphasize to his team that it’s a 60-minute game.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to