Prior to Alabama’s national championship showdown with Clemson, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sat down with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi to discuss his relationship with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
The two met in 1982 when Saban was coaching with Belichick’s father at the Naval Academy. When Belichick became head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991, his first hire was Saban as defensive coordinator.
Four jobs later, Saban now is head coach at Alabama, where he’s won five national championships since 2007. He also won a national championship with LSU.
Belichick, three jobs later, has five Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.
Rinaldi asked Belichick who is more demanding as a coach. His answer is hard to believe.
“Nick,” Belichick said. “I think I might have just a little more patience than Nick.”
Belichick called Saban’s ability to focus “better than anyone I’ve ever met in my life.”
Rinaldi asked both coached who’s better at “busting chops.”
“Probably Nick,” Belichick said. “Nick’s pretty sharp.”
“He’s got a dry sense of humor but he can hold his own,” Saban said about Belichick.
On who’s a “worse loser,” Belichick said, “It would probably be a photo finish. We both take them pretty hard.”
“We probably both rank up there when it comes up that,” Saban said.
Since both head coaches are in the midst of lengthy dynasties, Rinaldi asked Belichick what he and Saban understand about each other than others can’t.
“How hard it is to sustain and how hard it is to do it year after year,” Belichick said. “How you always have new players, your opponents have new players. You’re the target for them. The bullseye’s on you from them every week.”
The two coaches were division rivals in 2005 and 2006 when Saban was head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Belichick’s father died in 2005, and Saban took time out on a game week to attend the funeral, which was held on a Thursday. That resonated with Belichick.
“Honestly the last person I expected to see walk into the funeral home was Nick Saban,” Belichick said.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlov, Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images