TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Nick Saban is all about efficiency, even when it comes to capitalizing on the positive publicity from a national championship season.
Instead of hunkering down and writing a book like he did at LSU, the Alabama coach allowed cameras into his professional inner sanctum for a one-hour behind-the-scenes ESPN special filmed early in fall camp. Now, a documentary on the 2009 season is set to appear in theaters near you — well, if you live in certain cities in a four-state area.
For Saban, it's free publicity with minimal time siphoned from the other parts of his job. Like coaching and generally running a team.
That's what he was doing Tuesday evening during the Birmingham premier of the documentary "Nick Saban: Gamechanger," though his family and athletic director Mal Moore attended.
"I haven't seen it, so I can't tell you what it's about," Saban said. "It was a whole lot easier to do than write a book."
That's what he did after LSU won a national title in 2004, mixing in some of biographical material with leadership principles in "How Good Do You Want to be?"
"Gamechanger" was produced by Flashlight Media Group of Memphis, Tenn. The company said it is set to air in nearly 30 theaters starting Friday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.
Producers Trey Reynolds and Grant Guffin, who had done a DVD set of Alabama football's greatest moments, approached Saban's Memphis-based agent, Jimmy Sexton, about the project just before last season. They started shooting after the season, traveling with Saban to film an ESPN commercial with Texas coach Mack Brown in California and to his home state of West Virginia.
"He's portrayed as somebody who is almost robotic in his drive and his commitment toward football," Guffin said. "I had the perception before we had the opportunity to observe him and get to know him that he was football 24-7, 365 days a year.
"He's a guy who has learned how to keep things in balance. He's a guy who clearly knows how to have a good time and who enjoys time with his family and enjoys time with his friends. He's got a really sharp wit. We had the opportunity to hear some stories from friends of his of things that they have done in the past. He certainly has a mischievous streak as good as the next guy. He's much more three-dimensional to me after being around him and getting to know people who know him."
It's just the latest example of Saban's multimedia presence. He was on the cover of Forbes magazine two years ago as the "most powerful man in sports." He appeared as himself in the movie "The Blind Side."
Now, there's the ESPN special and documentary back to back.
Alabama tailback Mark Ingram was a big presence on the TV program, even doing handstand pushups after one of the crew members challenged him to a pushup contest of the regular variety.
"I haven't seen that much of it," Ingram said, "so I need to catch somebody who Tivo-ed it."
He said he didn't know anything about the documentary.
Might it be Saban's choice for the Friday night team movie before the opener next Saturday against San Jose State?
"That's always coach's decision," Ingram said, "but I doubt he'll pick that."