What could Saban teach Obama?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yesterday, President Barack Obama called the University of Alabama’s Nick Saban to congratulate him for the Crimson Tide’s win over Texas in the BCS championship game.

The coach invited the president to stop by and join him and other coaches in the NBA – noontime basketball association – anytime he was in Tuscaloosa.

It’s interesting to think of what the president might learn from the coach, who has won football’s top prize at two different universities.

Like dealing with the media. The coach does what is expected, but he doesn’t ingratiate himself to the media. Matter of fact, most of the folks who cover him don’t like him a whole lot. But the coach gets something really important: If you focus on the issue and produce results, the fans (voters, in the president’s case) will like you even if the media does not.

How about focus? While the coach’s intensity can’t be good for his long-term health, no one can deny that his razor-sharp focus yields the results he wants. If the president focused on the economy and the importance of jobs to the economy rather than trying to remake the health care system in a matter of months, how might things turn around? Would we have fewer people dependent upon the government for lunch? More people with employer-provided health care? Something to consider.

Then there’s team-building. The coach once said if you want to win the championship, you’ve got to be a champion in all you do, excellence every step of the way. How efficient might our government bureaucrats – from the president to the Congress to the Cabinet to the lowest-paid worker – become if they adopted that attitude?

Saban and the University of Alabama have taught us a lot this year. Congratulations to them for an excellent season and for bringing positive media attention to Alabama.

Now let’s hope the president accepts that invitation.