Najee Harris was a superstar in the backfield for Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide cruise to an undefeated 2020 season and a national championship.
But, Harris’s time in Tuscaloosa wasn’t always smooth sailing. In fact, it seems the former 5-star recruit got off to a rough start with coach Nick Saban.
Appearing on The Pivot podcast with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor, Harris said he sometimes felt “belittled” by Saban and added that he left school for a couple of weeks at one point:
“Me and Saban man, we did not get along at first,” Harris said. “We had a couple of arguments at first, because he just didn’t understand what type of dude I was. I don’t know how many Cali dudes he had … I’m not the type of dude to sit back and just let somebody talk to me, I guess, in a way and expect me not to say something.
“I can take coaching, but, like, it’s just a certain type of line when you cross, like all right, bro, I’m a man, you ain’t gonna f–ing talk to me like that … Coach me. Don’t think you’re more than just a coach to me. Don’t try to belittle. I felt like I was belittled. … “We bumped heads a lot. … Last incident happened and I left school. I left school for like two weeks — people didn’t know that. I left school for like two weeks and then Saban sat me in his office. … We exchanged words and from that point on, he took time out of his day to understand who I really am. Ever since that day, we were rock solid. Other people will lie about relationships, like, ‘Oh yeah, we clicked right on.’ Nah, bro, it was not like that with me and Coach Saban.”
Yes, that sounds like a rough start for the relationship between star player and legendary coach, but both Harris and Saban deserve credit for sticking with it and making things work out. Harris could have transferred or Saban could have kicked him off the team, but they made their relationship work, and the results speak for themselves.
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