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"The Box": Nick Saban Discusses Player Discipline and Doing the Right Thing

While he didn't reveal exact punishments, Saban gave a slight behind-the-scenes peak of how players can be disciplined on Thursday night's edition of Hey Coach!

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was time to step up onto a soapbox for Alabama football coach Nick Saban on Thursday night.

Speaking on the Hey Coach! radio program, Saban was asked a question from host Eli Gold about if he had seen that his players had been dialed in ahead of last week's game at Mississippi State. After answering the question right off the bat, Saban's answer took a slight tangent relative to the conversation.

"It's amazing to me — and I think we're all sort of guilty of this to some degree — that people respond so much better when bad things happen than when good things happen," Saban said. "And I think that when good things happen a lot, people have the tendency to get complacent. Complacency breeds a blatant disregard for doing things right, so you're not doing the little things right — you're not creating the right habits — and eventually that catches up with you.

"And when you don't have humility, you don't have enough respect for other people regardless of who you're playing. But basically, whoever we're playing, the opponent should be faceless. You should respect the technical parts of what they do and how you have to prepare to do it, but really your focus should be totally on your own performance in terms of how you play."

Prior to the Crimson Tide's 49-9 victory over the Bulldogs last Saturday, Alabama was coming off of its first loss of the season at Texas A&M. All season, Saban has put an emphasis on leadership on the team as well as how his team needs to maintain focus and personal discipline in order to maintain success.

While Gold's question didn't directly strike a nerve, Saban became animated as he began to use an example by cracking a window to a behind-the-scenes peak of how players are disciplined for things such as missing classes.

"I actually got on to the players today," Saban said. "Because Thursday is always academic day. And we also make sure that everybody is eating all of their meals, so we do attendance at meals and I know how many guys and how many meals they missed and all that kind of stuff. So then we have a threshold of how many classes you can miss before you go in what we call 'The Box'. As soon as you get in The Box, then you have penalties for every time you miss after that. Same thing with your meals. You miss so many meals, you go in what we call 'The Box'.

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"And once you're in the box, then every time you mess up again, there's a punishment. There's a penalty that you have to pay, and I'm not going to say what it is."

Saban has always had a way of using stories from real-life situations to paint a picture of his point. The 69-year-old coach then concluded his story and explained how it related to the situation of preparing for your opponent regardless of the scenario.

"To me, what I gave a lecture about today is everybody once they get into The Box, they don't miss any more classes," Saban said. "Once they get in the box, they don't miss any more meals. So my question is 'Why do we have to — from a morality standpoint — to do the right thing there has to be some penalty involved to enhance us not to do the wrong thing? But we couldn't do the right thing when there's no penalty? You should be doing the right thing because it's the right thing and it benefits you.

"That kind blows my mind."

Saban's message applies to not just his football players, but to people in general. Everyone grows up being told to simply do the right thing, but sometimes that is harder to do than outside influencers may realize. Every situation for every person is different. However, there is always the constant that people should simply do the right thing. Not just because it benefits others, but also because it benefits you in the long run.

Saban finished by tying his point to humanity.

"But I guess it's the same some places in society," Saban said. "If you lie and there's no consequences for it, I guess you just keep lying. If you steal and there's no consequences for it, I guess you just keep stealing. I don't know but you shouldn't do either one of those things to start with is the point."