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Playing to a 'Standard'

Nick Saban's philosophy seems insane, but it's one we should all have.

Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

The game got away from Mississippi State last night, they couldn't survive the 1st quarter and that just couldn't happen to have even a remote chance. A loss is a loss, but the way Alabama comes at you all night with relentless effort leaves you wanting to hold your head in your hands and cry, why Saban why?

Down 31-0 in the 4th quarter Tyler Russell engineered a 16 play, 97 yard drive from MSU's own 2 to the Alabama 1. Thirteen plays in it was 1st & Goal from the 1. Two attempts to run it in were stopped by the Bama D. Whether the personnel attempting to run the ball in for State was right or not, the fact is Alabama stuffed the Bulldogs....when they were up 31-0, and State wanted to get in that endzone. Then Robert Lester intercepted Russell's pass in the endzone to end the drive.

Nick Saban teaches something that he's very serious about - 'play to a standard'. Don't measure yourself by your competition, but by whether or not you gave your absolute best on every single play, no matter what.

I believe it was Todd Blackledge who explained how Barrett Jones feels that Saban's demands for excellence will go on to help him in the business world, when he won't simply compare himself to the guy working next to him, but will strive to put out the best work he possibly can.

When Blackledge mentioned this it hit me what 'playing to a standard' is all about. Alabama does it, and that is why they are the best. They don't let up. They don't slack off. They won't overlook anyone because they are bound and determined to play their absolute best...if they don't Saban is going to let them know about it.

This goes against human nature for sure. Who doesn't fantasize about making a ton of money and taking it easy? When doing a task at work, have you ever thought 'well this isn't my best but it's better than anyone else could do'? I was always happy with my 'C' in school, but I was smart enough to get an 'A'.

Saban's philosophy is a great lesson for everyone. Play, work, live to a standard. As a spouse, an employee, a parent, a son or daughter, as a Christian, a ball player, a mentor, a citizen of the United States. Can you imagine what we could accomplish as a nation if we were all holding ourselves to a higher standard?

Dan Mullen wants his players to play with 'relentless effort and passion for the game of football'...I think that's pretty much the same thing Saban is teaching, but he takes it a little further - relentless effort all the time. Academics, athletics, everything. Be the best you can be. And he holds the players accountable - you see that on the field, no metal lapses because they got bored.

None of this is a knock on anything MSU did last night. I think State is taking 2-3 star players and getting the best out of them, making them better. Saban is taking 5 star players and making them better - it's hard to compete. One day we'll break through and score an upset...maybe next year. But for now the Tide are the best, not because they are Alabama, but because Nick Saban makes them play to a standard.