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Saban: The Making of a Coach Hardcover – August 4, 2015

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Editorial Reviews


“Insidery, detailed, and absorbing. Come for the chapter titled ‘Why Can’t He Be Happy’ and stay for the one called ‘Miami Vice.’”
Sports Illustrated

“In this well-reported, engrossing tale, Monte Burke has captured the imperfect brilliance of Nick Saban. Read it, and you will emerge with a deeper understanding of the man, his zeal, his achievement, and the costs that have come with it all.”
—Gay Talese

“An eye-opening book. Monte Burke has finally taken us behind the great big curtain and, for the first time, shown us who Nick Saban really is and what makes him tick. I couldn’t put this book down. For all college football fans, this is a must-read.”
—Paul Finebaum, ESPN college football analyst

“Monte Burke has written the most comprehensive portrait yet of football’s most enigmatic coach. Saban is as close as the average fan will ever get to watching film or riding in a golf cart with the man himself.”
—Warren St. John, author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer

“If you are a fan of college football—or sports in general—you must read this book. Monte Burke does a deep dive into the life and career of Nick Saban and surfaces with an honest and compelling portrait of one of the most complex, driven and successful coaches on the planet.”
—Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump and The Crimson Tide: The Official Illustrated History of Alabama Football

“Smart and passionate, Saban combines the ardor of a fan with the eye of a journalist. Monte Burke has his finger on the pulse of the number one coach and the number one program in college football.”
—Allen Barra, author of The Last Coach: A Life of Paul “Bear” Bryant

“A comprehensive biography . . . Through interviews with more than 250 people in Saban’s inner circle, including players, athletic directors, even golf buddies, Burke reveals the underpinnings of Saban’s success—from his perfectionist father to his obsession with strategy to his West Virginia coal-mining hometown.”
Garden & Gun

“A no-holds-barred glimpse into the quest for perfection that has driven Saban to win four national titles in his nineteen years as a college head coach. . . . Burke has written a winning, definitive portrait of a fascinating character.”
Publishers Weekly

“Burke takes readers into locker rooms, onto the field, and into recruits’ living rooms, as friends, foes, and colleagues shed light on the life of one of today’s most successful college football coaches. . . . Burke wisely focuses on the man rather than the play-by-play, and the result is a genuinely insightful look at a fierce competitor who nevertheless seems to care for his players both on and off the field.”

About the Author

Monte Burke is a staff writer at Forbes magazine and has also written for The New York Times, Outside, Men’s Journal, Town & Country, and Garden & Gun, among many other publications. He is the author of the books Saban: The Making of a Coach, 4th and Goal, and Sowbelly, and is a recipient of Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” award. He grew up in New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, and Alabama and now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three daughters.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 4, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476789932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476789934
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Steven Thomas TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 6, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I am pleased to offer the following honest review in return for a free copy of this book:
Having played football at both the high school and college level myself, I feel reasonably qualified to state that this book will have a strong appeal to football fans of all kinds & stripes. Prior to reading this book I'd heard of Nick Saban and his reputation, but never understood how unusual his coaching career has been and how much new innovation and original thinking he has brought to the game. This book actually reads more like a novel than a biography ... making his contributions to football at all levels an even more fascinating story. Saban seems to have innovated a way to psychologically "get into the heads" of his players at an emotional level that causes great things to happen for them and his teams. This book is a priceless contribution to what I believe has actually become "America's Sport" (It's no longer baseball.)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gebre Menfes Kidus on August 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading “SABAN: The Making of a Coach,” the unauthorized biography of Nick Saban, written by Monte Burke. Judging from Coach Saban’s general disapproval of unauthorized biographies*, I was afraid that this book might be an overtly biased and unfairly negative caricature of the Alabama head football coach. But pleasantly, I found the book to be a fair, thorough, and highly readable examination of arguably the greatest college football coach in the game today.

Those who lack objectivity – be they Saban detractors or Saban worshippers – will find plenty of ammunition within these page to support their blindly subjective opinions of the man. But the objective reader will discover that Nick Saban is a complex human being whose success is fueled by a variety of sometimes seemingly paradoxical factors. On the one hand Coach Saban is impatient, demanding, intolerant, and impersonal. On the other hand he is compassionate, emotional, forgiving, and kind. He expects the same standards of preparation, commitment, work ethic, and attention to detail from his staff and players that he demands of himself. Thus he finds it hard to understand why others don’t work as hard, try as hard, or care as much as he does. And understandably, it's not easy to work with or play for a man with such high standards.

However, Monte Burke also shows us a side of Coach Saban that would surprise most people. This book demonstrates that Saban is not some robotic mercenary who is simply concerned about wins and losses and financial reward.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By gordon19 on October 16, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
THIS is a definitive biography on Nick Saban which covers his life from an early age through the 2014 season. Very insightful and well written with no discernible bias by the author. Saban is a complicated man with an over-riding theme of still trying to prove to his late football coach father, Big Nick, that he can finish 'the process". His leaving so many jobs is an important thing to know the 'whys' of BUT he has done a tremendous job at each university stop in vastly improving the football program into one that the athletes are encouraged to graduate, treated with respect. Did that at Michigan State, LSU, and Alabama - the last with big-time results in making huge improvements overall in the program. One has to respect that. I've read the bios of some coaches who have interested me - Bear Bryant, Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier and have learned a lot. Nick is Spurrier without the sense of humor! I am not an Alabama fan - just a fan of outstanding college coaches.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By rt on August 7, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Just read Saban. Monte Burke did a great job of providing inside detail from a long list of sources involved in Saban's life, and he offers a lot of interesting insights into what makes Saban tick and why he's become the great coach we see today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian T. on August 24, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was a very insightful look into one of the best college football coaches of all time. Notice, that I said "college" and not just football in general. His "experiment" with the Miami Dolphins proved that some guys are just not meant to coach in the NFL. The list of players he has recruited and assistants he has mentored over the years is just astounding. Obviously, a very driven and sensitive man, he came up with a coaching process and believed in it and stuck with it and it brought him much success. It will be interesting to see how Alabama adjusts in the 2nd year with the Playoff system , where they have to earn it out on the field instead of in the polls. They found out it won't be a walk in the park against Ohio State last year in the Sugar Bowl. I have to believe that Nick Saban has to be thinking about an end game here. He has achieved everything there is to achieve in college football. Another quick exit from the playoffs(if they make it) this year,may hasten his decision.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roger on October 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Any football fan would like this book. Love him or hate him, it's a great story and the author does a great job of being objective.
This isn't a "Nick Saban is so wonderful and I'm going to smooch his behind for 300 pages" type of book, nor is it Kitty Kelly in an athletic supporter.
I really liked the authors writing style and he obviously did great research.There's also some great stuff in there about Saban's personal psychologist, and how Saban has implemented his ideas into his football programs over the years..The book opens up with the story of how Saban left the Dolphins for Alabama. That story alone is worth the read.
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