Former Crimson Tide Star Najee Harris Reveals He Left Alabama Following Spat with Nick Saban

by Dustin Schutte

It’s not always sunshine and rainbows for football players at Alabama. Sure, we see plenty of smiles when the Crimson Tide raise the national championship trophy at the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tense moments in the locker room. Former running back Najee Harris shared some insight into some of his encounters with Nick Saban.

Not all of them pleasant, either.

Harris, who now suits up for the NFL‘s Pittsburgh Steelers, revealed on The Pivot podcast that he and Saban got into several heated exchanges during his time in Tuscaloosa (2017-20).

“I’m not the type of dude to sit back and just let somebody talk to me in a way and expect me not to say something,” Harris said.

“I can take coaching, but, like, it’s just a certain type of line when you cross, like all right, bro, I’m a man, you ain’t gon’ f—ing talk to me like that. Don’t think you’re more than just a coach to me. Don’t try to belittle. I felt like I was belittled.”

Harris, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher during his time at Alabama, said the final clash with the head coach resulted in him leaving the school.

“I left school for like two weeks — people didn’t know that,” Harris said. “I left school for like two weeks and then Saban sat me in his office.”

After Harris and Saban talked it out, the two were on the same page. There weren’t any significant issues following that meeting.

That season, Harris rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 425 receiving yards and reached the end zone four more times. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to their second national championship during his four seasons.

Nick Saban Almost Left Alabama Before Najee Harris

Najee Harris nearly left Alabama because of the frequent dust-ups with Nick Saban. But the running back almost missed out on playing for the head coach entirely.

In 2014, Saban thought about leaving his coaching gig for a job in broadcasting at ESPN. That little-known-fact was revealed in John Talty’s book, The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban.

Per the book, Saban had Nick Kahn, a media talent agent, reach out to ESPN regarding a potential job following the 2013 college football season. There was interest on both sides, but Saban decided he wasn’t quite ready to step away from coaching.

Since that inquiry, Saban has led Alabama to three national titles (2015, 2017, 2020).