| FTBL Nick Saban explains why Bill O'Brien coaches from the press box


Century Club
“We have Doug Marrone and the other coaches that are on the sidelines, Wig as the receiver coach, who has been here, he’s assistant head coach, he knows the system,” Saban said on Thursday night. “So to split the staff up was really sort of the right thing to do. And Bill wanted to be in the press box, but he could do it either way and he’s done it either way. But it just balanced the staff out a little bit better to have Doug and Wig on the sidelines with the players because of their experience, because they could make the adjustments.

“Bill can always make the adjustments with the quarterback. And I think it enhances your ability to call the game when you’re in the press box because you don’t have all the distractions that you have on the sidelines. There’s good and bad in both, I promise you, so it really is kind of up to the individual and the group that you have and how that works best for your team.”

Just like in this case, Saban typically allows his offensive coordinators to coach from where they want. However, he insisted that Lane Kiffin be on the sidelines for his first year in 2014, and that’s where the now-Ole Miss coach stayed throughout his tenure. The coordinators before Kiffin -- Major Applewhite, Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier -- all coached from the booth in their time at UA. Most recently Steve Sarkisian called plays from the sideline.

Saban preferred to call games from the press box when he was Michigan State’s defensive coordinator from 1983-97, but when he worked under Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns, he was asked to coach from the sideline and was “absolutely scared to death” by the idea.

“I always called the game from the press box,” Saban said. “You could have all your stuff laid out, what I’m gonna call on third down, what I’m gonna call on first down, what I’m gonna call against this personnel group, whatever. So it was really easy to be organized, and in between series, you could actually look at all these things and decide what you’re gonna call next.”

In two games under O’Brien, Alabama’s offense has averaged 46.0 points and 462.5 yards per game, which ranks third and fifth in the SEC, respectively. Coaching from the booth hasn’t had much of an effect on starting quarterback Bryce Young, who has opened his sophomore season with 571 passing yards, seven touchdowns and a 70.8 completion percentage.

“Coach O’Brien coming in has been great for me,” Young said this preseason. “It really has been a super smooth transition. When O’Brien first came in, I didn’t know him previously, didn’t have any relationship with him. I knew the experience he had, I knew he was from the NFL, knew he had all this title. When he came in what really shocked me was how open and how humble and how well he articulated everything to me.

“... He’s super receptive to everyone in the quarterback room and everyone with offensive ideas. He’s obviously super knowledgeable and he’s really taught me a lot. That’s been really good for me and my growth. Being able to have those conversations, have that relationship was something that was really good for us as an offense and me individually and I’m super excited to keep working with O’Brien in the future.”

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