Mike Locksley shares what he learned from Nick Saban during Alabama tenure
If you’re a college football coach and have a connection to Nick Saban, prepare to get asked about it – a lot. Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are accustomed to being asked Saban questions all the time. Turns out it’s not just an SEC media thing. Over at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley also got a Saban question.
Locksley landed at Alabama for the 2016 season after being Maryland’s interim head coach in 2015 but not getting the full-time job. He served as an offensive analyst at Alabama then moved up to the role of co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach for 2017. Last season, Locksley served as the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide.
Entering 2019, Locksley is back at Maryland. This time, he’s the head coach, succeeding DJ Durkin. It’s not Locksley’s first time being a non-interim head coach, though. For two-plus seasons (2009-11), Locksley was head coach at New Mexico. He posted a 2-26 as the head coach of the Lobos. A reporter at Big Ten Media Days asked Locksley if learning from Saban for three seasons will have an impact on his second go-around as a full-time head coach:
“I get this question asked often. We’d need a whole ‘nother two-hour session for me to talk about the things I learned from Nick,” Locksley said. “But what I will tell you is with those plaques that I described, I think each one of my experiences have given me an opportunity to learn, grow and move forward as a head coach. But if I learned anything from Coach Saban, it’s, one, consistency in your messaging. He talks about the process. I call it behaviors and habits. Also we do a thing called quality control, and I think that is a huge thing because people think when you have the success we had at Alabama under Coach Saban that it’s easy, but it’s so hard to teach your players when you’re having success. And I know he oftentimes says, hey, don’t waste a failure. But when we have had success, we’d still go back and we still went back and looked at why it was successful and we asked the tough questions of how we can make it better.
“So for me, I love the term “success leaves clues,” and “don’t waste a failure,” and I’m going to take all the clues learned at Alabama, implement them, have our players learn the behaviors and habits to be not result-oriented but to be process-oriented. And if we can focus on learning and having those types of habits and behaviors, I see Maryland being able to reach the success that we all want.”