Nick Saban Remembers the Emotions of 9/11 and the Impact of the Day

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Getty Images

There is no question about it — the tragic attacks on 9/11 changed America, and the world, forever. Just ask Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

As we near the 20th anniversary of 9/11 it is undoubtedly an important milestone for the families and friends of the nearly 3,000 people who died on that day. But it affected everyone in the entire country, including Nick Saban and his team. On Wednesday, he talked about it all with reporters on an SEC conference call.

Like many of us, Saban remembers exactly where he was, what he was doing, and the initial emotions that came flooding in. It’s a day that he, and so many of us, will never forget.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is the airplanes flying into the building,” Saban said. “The vision of that, where I was — I was at LSU at the time — and seeing that happen, seeing the affect and impact that it had on every individual that worked in the organization, as well as all the players.”

Nick Saban Encouraged His Players and Fellow Coaches to ‘Handle Their Emotions’.

At the time of the tragedy, Saban was coaching the LSU Tigers. As a matter of fact, he had helped them get off to a 2-0 start to the season. Sitting pretty as the 13th ranked team in the country at the time, they were preparing for a matchup with their divisional rival in the Auburn Tigers when the terrorist attack took place. He told reporters on Wednesday that football took a back seat to the mental health of his players and his colleagues.

“It wasn’t really about whether you were going to play or not play,” he explained. “It was about handling your emotions relative to what happened (because) the magnitude of what happened was so devasting it was hard to really think about anything else.”

In the end, the SEC decided to ultimatey postpone the slate of games for that weekend. Everyone in the nation was still trying to come to grips with what had happened. Together as a country, we mourned the loss of the 2,977 who passed away and sent our best wishes to the more than 25,000 who sustained injuries of some kind.

“It certainly was the best decision not to play,” Saban admitted. “Probably good for the players and good for everyone to deal with your emotions.”

Heading into this weekend, Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide team will be making their home debut against Mercer on September 11. And although that game won’t be particularly exciting, there are some better games on the slate as well. Ohio State and Oregon will square off in Columbus, Ohio. And there couldn’t be a more fitting matchup for the afternoon game. That’s when Air Force will take on Navy.