Talty ’07 Dives into Nick Saban’s Coaching Leadership
August 29, 2022
As the excitement of college football season descends on us, one Christian Brothers Academy alumnus has climbed inside the mind of one of sports’ greatest coaches of all-time.
John Talty ’07 has released a book dives into the coaching “secrets” of University of Alabama’s head football coach Nick Saban. Of course, Saban is a seven-time national championship-winning coach, six with Alabama and one more with LSU.
Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban: How Alabama’s Coach Became the Greatest Ever combines original interviews and never-before-heard stories about the legendary football coach, while lending advice for coaches across the nation. The book has been a quick success, landing on The Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists this month.
Talty has covered Saban for years as the senior sports editor and SEC Insider for Alabama Media Group, and he answered some questions for us below as his book was released this month.
CBA: You’ve been in journalism for your whole career, with a lot of time spent around Alabama Football and college sports in general. What was the ultimate driving force behind writing a book based around Saban’s leadership?
Talty: All it takes is looking at his record seven national championship rings to know Nick Saban is a successful guy. But, I wanted to understand how and why he did what he did and whether there was anything within his formula that had value beyond the football field. Saban hasn’t achieved his success by luck or happenstance; it is a result of an organized, clear-eyed vision that he lives by every day. I wanted to write a book that explains what makes him so successful in an easily accessible manner that would appeal to college football fans and anyone looking to improve their daily routines.
CBA: When researching and interviewing individuals for this book, what were some of your most exciting or interesting moments?
Talty: There was already a lot written and said about Nick Saban when I started this project, so one of my top priorities was unearthing stories and anecdotes that no one had ever read. A big one for me was when I found out Saban considered leaving Alabama for ESPN after the 2013 season, a potentially momentous decision that had somehow never been reported before this book. One of my favorite chapters in the book is about how Saban handles losses because I think there is so much you can learn from how a successful person handles adversity. When I got new details about how he reacted after the famous Kick Six loss and other prominent defeats during his career, I knew I was onto something people would enjoy. It was also genuinely cool to talk to people like Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus who have gone on to accomplish great things after playing or coaching for Saban.
CBA: As a journalist for over a decade now, what changes have you seen in the industry? How should students who are prospective journalists prepare themselves for an ever-changing field?
Talty: You have to be open to different possibilities and be willing to adapt to changing times. I have a chapter in the book, “Evaluate Constantly; Evolve When Necessary,” and I think it is a good summation of what it takes to excel in journalism these days. You must evolve to keep up with new technological advances and how the audience’s interests can change over time. One of the biggest challenges now is people wanting to control the message on their terms, whether that’s through a podcast, Instagram, TikTok, etc. so it is more challenging than ever to get people on board to let you tell their stories. But to quote the great Ted Lasso, you have to be curious. The best stories come from asking yourself, “Wait, why does that happen?” and going down the path to answering.
CBA: Finally, looking back at your time at CBA, what stepping stones were laid to your current career as a writer and editor?
Talty: I started getting paid to write about sports while I was a student at CBA, a result of too much ambition and great encouragement from teachers I had at the Academy. There are too many to name who impacted where I am today, but Mr. Nunan, Mr. Lelesi, Mr. Begley, Mr. Sewnig and Brother Andrew all helped inspire me in ways that stick with me now. Without the structure of CBA and being pushed to be more than even I thought I was capable of, I never would have had the skills and confidence to build the career I have now. Getting to cover so many great CBA sports teams at that age helped me hone my craft, too.