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50 Nick Saban Quotes That Aren’t Just for Athletes

Nick Saban is often called the greatest college football coach of all time. With a record like 255–65–1, it is not hard to see why. Enjoy these insightful Nick Saban quotes.

Saban also coached in the NFL, as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, after coaching the University of Alabama team since 2007.

Saban is of Croatian descent but grew up in West Virginia. He attended Kent State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. In 1975, he earned his master’s degree in sports administration from the same university.

A lot of these Nick Saban quotes feel like they could be used in business classes as a result. They also apply to everyday life because he focuses a lot on character and attitude.

Nick Saban During a Game

Don’t forget to also check out these coach Carter quotes for more inspiration.

The 12 Disease of Me Dominance Lessons

1. “Lesson 1. There is no “I” in team but there is an “I” in win.” – Nick Saban

2. “Lesson 2. Everything you do, you do to the team.” – Nick Saban

3. “Lesson 3. Get out of yourself and into the team.” – Nick Saban

4. “Lesson 4. Don’t forget the fundamentals.” – Nick Saban

5. “Lesson 5. You can have no flickering lights.” – Nick Saban

6. “Lesson 6. Do not allow mistakes to go uncorrected.” – Nick Saban

7. “Lesson 7. Having skill is not having talent.” – Nick Saban

8. “Lesson 8. You must trust, not just believe.” – Nick Saban

9. “Lesson 9. Sometimes what is best for the individual is not what is best for the team.” – Nick Saban

10. “Lesson 10. Teams must take ownership for themselves and their personalities.” – Nick Saban

11. “Lesson 11. Teams that play together often end up lucky.” – Nick Saban

12. “Lesson 12. With your A-game, you can beat anybody; anything less, and they can beat you.” – Nick Saban

Nick Saban quotes about leadership and management

13. “Baseball manager Casey Stengel once quipped, “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.” ― Nick Saban

14. “By definition, a leader is “a person who rules or guides or inspires others.” But that’s not entirely true. A person “who rules” may or may not be a leader, even if he or she is the ruler or manager. You see, just because you’re in command of a company, a team, or an army battalion, that does not qualify you as a leader. Perhaps you attained that position by experience or success, or maybe you simply outlasted everyone else. Regardless, how you lead defines you as a leader.” ― Nick Saban

15. “Great leaders are not always popular.” ― Nick Saban

16. “As a leader, you cannot force the opposition to feel they can’t succeed— they will do that on their own. But you can lead your team to such dominance that giving in becomes the opposition’s only solution. Keep on your team to push hard and, eventually, the other team will submit.” ― Nick Saban

17. “Great leaders do not rush to make changes because of failure.” ― Nick Saban

18. “Some of the great leaders in history were not adored but respected. My advice to leaders—stop trying to please everyone and do what you believe is best.” ― Nick Saban

19. “I want what’s best for our country. I’m not sure I can figure that out.” ― Nick Saban

20. “Don’t ever miss the opportunity to say, “Good job”.” ― Nick Saban

Nick Saban quotes on what makes people successful

21. “Recognize certain traits that seem to be in every champion: passion, commitment, confidence, pride in performance, high standards of excellence, relentlessness, perseverance, and the ability to perform in adverse circumstances.” ― Nick Saban

22. “Champions are rare. Everybody has some chance, some opportunity to change and improve, but not everybody takes advantage. Be somebody who does.” ― Nick Saban

23. “That’s the mentality champions have. Winning on the road in sports or going into a rival company’s region and winning just feels better. Instead of seeing the challenge as We have to, we should see all challenges as we get to.” ― Nick Saban

24. “A truly unselfish team player does not care who gets credit for success and is willing to take on blame when things don’t go right. Unfortunately, we live in a world when the selfish seem to outnumber the unselfish. Pat Riley points out that the people who create 20 percent of a team’s effectiveness may feel that they are deserving of 80 percent of the credit and rewards. The weaker links on a team or in an organization are often the ones who clamor for more credit.” ― Nick Saban

25. “Finally, your attitude is critical to success. Having a positive attitude can have a tremendous effect on how you react and respond to challenges, successes, and failures. And attitude is directly affected by expectations. If you expect things to be difficult, it will always be easier to solve problems, overcome adversity, and have an enthusiastic energy about how you go about and enjoy your work.” ― Nick Saban

26. “Education does not promise success but makes it easier.” ― Nick Saban

27. “One thing about championship teams is that they’re resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.” ― Nick Saban

28. “Mediocre people don’t like high achievers, and high achievers don’t like mediocre people.” ― Nick Saban

29. “I always ask myself the question, do you like to win, or do you hate to lose?” ― Nick Saban

Nick Saban quotes about character and attitude

30. “The ‘good is enough’ attitude is not what we’re looking for, we have got to use every opportunity to improve individually so we can improve collectively.” ― Nick Saban

31. “Character is what you do when no one else is watching.” ― Nick Saban

32. “The difference between belief and trust can be monumental. We may believe in others, but do we really trust them? To firmly trust people means putting your own successes and health in their hands.” ― Nick Saban

33. “Talent is putting skills into productive use.” ― Nick Saban

34. “Dominant teams rarely are outplayed or outclassed, but they sometimes beat themselves. Just because you are dominant does not mean you are infallible. Remember that dominance does not mean perfection; a lack of focus for even a short period of time can cost you. Do not relax when you are far ahead or dominating your marketplace. That is the time to push even harder.” ― Nick Saban

35. “We had more skill than you can imagine, at almost every position. But guys didn’t want to put in the effort or to play with toughness and togetherness, and the incredible skills never developed into talent.” ― Nick Saban

36. “No matter what your chosen profession, be prepared for opportunity, and be willing to take it—your destiny may depend on it.” ― Nick Saban

37. “There are two pains in life. There is the pain of discipline and the pain of disappointment. If you can handle the pain of discipline, then you’ll never have to deal with the pain of disappointment.” ― Nick Saban

38. “Do the right thing. It’s that simple. Do the right thing when the right thing is not popular. Do the right thing when no one else is around. Do the right thing when temptation tells you otherwise. Do the right thing all the time.” ― Nick Saban

39. “Honesty and integrity is an important part of our character, my character.” ― Nick Saban

40. “When you have the ability to affect other people and be somebody that somebody wants to emulate, care enough to help somebody else for their benefit, that’s what makes you a good teammate, and that’s what everybody’s looking for.” ― Nick Saban

Nick Saban quotes and lessons about work-life

41. “If you get word that a co-worker is saying things about you behind your back, confront him or her on it. If an evaluation of your work is false and biased, challenge it. Doing nothing will only worsen the damage. Understand that you can’t control everything, so pick your spots and stand up for what you know and believe is right. Communicate when there is a miscommunication.” ― Nick Saban

42. “…don’t want to see, you must decide if the battle is worth your time and effort. In your life, only you can decide what is worth going to battle for, keeping in mind what may be sacrificed in the process.” ― Nick Saban

43. “If you know you will not be perfect, then those mistakes can roll off your shoulders as you move on to the next play. But if perfection is your ideal, those mistakes will cripple you with frustration. So be realistic, understand that you and others will make mistakes, and use those as building blocks for the future.” ― Nick Saban

44. “It’s sometimes difficult for employees to respect individual differences in their coworkers. Often I remind our various staff groups that we treat everyone fairly and honestly—but we don’t treat them all the same.” ― Nick Saban

45. “Your message should be constant. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol from an early age and don’t stop. Encourage your employees every day—not simply after successes, but through the tough times as well.” ― Nick Saban

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of motivational quotes for employees about the power of a great team.

46. “In your business and personal life, think of those who are dominant. What do they all have in common? Do you have it in you to be like them?” ― Nick Saban

47. “Chronic feelings of underappreciation. The players who suffer from the “disease of me” syndrome constantly feel that they are overlooked in praise. We all want to be patted on the back, but some individuals demand constant attention and sulk when they believe, rightly or wrongly, that their skills and efforts are being underappreciated. It leads to jealousy and bad chemistry.” ― Nick Saban

48. “Paranoia over being cheated out of one’s rightful share. Along with feeling that they are not appreciated, these individuals are routinely concerned about who gets credit and who gets blame. No credit given to them is ever enough, and too much offered to a teammate is flat-out wrong. They are concerned not with the team’s success, but with whether they are going to get credit for any success.” ― Nick Saban

49. “When you invest your time, you make a goal and a decision of something that you want to accomplish. Whether it makes good grades in school, be a good athlete, be a good person, go down and do some community service and help somebody who’s in need, whatever it is you choose to do, you’re investing your time in that.” ― Nick Saban

50. “When you have a system, you kind of get in a routine of what’s important. And then you spend a lot more time on thinking of things that would make it better.” ― Nick Saban

What did you learn from these Nick Saban quotes?

Nick Saban got his first job coaching at Kent State, when Don James hired him as a graduate assistant. Afterward, he became the assistant coach at several schools.

He was also the defensive coordinator of the Cleaveland Brown, under Bill Belichick (another legendary coach). However, he did not enjoy his time there, referring to those four years as the “worst four years of my life.”

This football season, although upended by COVID-19 (he caught the virus himself) was Nick Saban’s fourteenth season with Alabama. His faith as a devout Catholic likely influences his position on character and why he emphasizes the importance of morality to his players. He had a cameo role in the movie The Blindside, where he plays himself. The movie Nick Saban: Gamechanger, was released in 2010.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Nick Saban quotes and sayings? If you have any other quotes from Nick Saban feel free to add them in the comment section below.

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