Nick Saban is one of the most revered coaches in all of sports, so it’s no surprise that Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats is an admirer of his Crimson Tide colleague. Oats’ admiration for Saban, however, started long before the first-year UA hoops coach’s arrival in Tuscaloosa.

AL.com published a lengthy feature from Mike Rodak on Wednesday titled “How Nate Oats went ‘beyond call of duty’ to learn from Nick Saban.” Rodak details how Oats “shadowed” the Alabama football team for over 14 hours one day, but it’s safe to say Oats was already familiar with The Process.

Rodak writes, “During his 11-year career coaching boys basketball at Romulus High School outside Detroit, Oats would provide his players with a quote of the day. Some came from Saban, who just a few years earlier had caught Oats’ eye as Michigan State’s coach.”

The Michigan State connection did not end there. As an up-and-coming coach, Oats also admired MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo and would visit East Lansing to observe the program. Izzo and Saban became friends during the latter’s time at Michigan State. Basketball fans might remember that last March, Izzo reflected on his friendship with Saban and why he’s a “fan” of the Tide football coach. When Alabama was looking for a new basketball coach last year, Izzo recommended Oats.

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The Izzo recommendation got Saban’s attention.

“[That] meant a lot to me, because my relationship with Tom Izzo would never be one that steered me wrong,” Saban told Rodak this week.

Saban does his best to help all his UA coaching colleagues.

“I’m always really open to try to help all the coaches here, wherever I can,” he said. “My philosophy here is we want to be good at everything here. I try to support all the other programs the best I can to help whatever way that I can so they can be.”

Oats has made sure to take advantage of that tremendous opportunity.

“In his case he went beyond the call of duty when it came to trying to do more so that he could get acclimated to being in the Southeast Conference and see how somebody else does things,” Saban said. “Most of the other coaches have never done that.”

Oats believes it would be a mistake not to seek out Saban.

“Access to [Saban’s] program in general has been great,” Oats said. “[I can look] out my office window straight over to the football offices. I could walk to his office in a minute. For me not to take advantage of that, I would be a complete idiot. I’m going to take advantage of that as much as possible.”

The full, lengthy feature is an entertaining read for Alabama fans, especially those who follow both sports.