Awkward Nick Saban Photo Is Pretty Awesome

0331SabanGymnastics51.jpg
Photo by Gymtide.com
This 2011 shot may be a cardboard cut-out of Nick Saban.
At its best, a major college athletic department is about synergy.

When you compete against the Goliaths of your sport in all sports, teams at a school need to be helping the other teams. All for one, one for all. (Add here whatever other cheesy motivational slogan about togetherness you can think of.)

Being the head coach of a perennial championship program even brings an added burden of giving back. Call it a rub, call it osmosis, call it the "magic touch," but if you're a championship coach, the other coaches at your school will and should want to tap into whatever strand of DNA it is that allows you to compete at such a high level.

Nick Saban knows this. I think. I'm pretty sure he knows this.

Nick Saban has won three national championships in football at Alabama. As sports go, you probably can't get two ends of the spectrum further apart than football and women's gymnastics. But champions are champions, and dammit, there's got to be elements of the football title-winning blueprint that can be mad-libbed into women's gymnastics, right?

Well, Alabama's women's gymnastics team has won six national titles, including 2011 and 2012. They're trying to get back to that mountaintop, and in assistance to the pursuit of that goal, look who stopped by practice yesterday! The Nickinator!

I don't know what was said in this speech; however, I know without question that it was delivered forcefully, involved very little chitchat and virtually no laughing, and was meticulously timed to the second. ("How much time do you need me to talk to these girls? I'll give you 12 minutes and 36 seconds, then I have a lunch I need to attend at 12:04 p.m.")

And clearly, Nick Saban had somewhere he needed to be. (Or he's afraid of girls.) How else do you explain the awkwardness of this picture that was snapped after the speech?

It really is odd, because a brief internet scouring shows that the "Saban poses with Alabama women's gymnastics team" picture has become an annual Bama tradition, with a storied history even longer than poisoning Auburn's trees and tea bagging LSU fans. And Nick Saban has always seemed pretty comfortable before, whether it's in a casual sweater, an argyle sweater, or a decorative Hawaiian shirt.

In those previous pictures, Nick Saban looked comparatively less constipated downright at ease. So there's only one explanation, really -- those previous pictures were all just cardboard cutouts of Saban, because there's no way he was actually happy to spend time on something outside of football. No chance.

Roll Damn Tide.

(h/t Outkick The Coverage)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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