Alabama football coach Nick Saban is under the magnifying glass again as the Crimson Tide kicks off its 2021 season with a match against Miami on Saturday, Sept. 4.
He has defended NFL players’ right to kneel during the national anthem, and he has appeared in a video supporting Black Lives Matter, but is the 69-year-old conservative or liberal? Here’s what we know…
Is Nick Saban a Democrat?
It’s hard to say. In a 2017 opinion article endorsing Nick as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate, U.S. News & World Report’s Liz Mair wrote that it’s “not 100 percent clear” where Nick falls on the political spectrum but observed that “signs point to ‘conservative’ of some sort.”
Time and again, though, Nick has kept his politics close to the vest. “I can tell you we’re not endorsing any candidates,” he said a year ago, during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, per Yahoo! Sports. “I’ve never endorsed a candidate, nor will I ever endorse a candidate or get involved in politics in any way, shape, or form. I don’t think that’s my place. But I do think it is very, very important that every American has a voice and uses their opportunity to vote so their voice is heard.”
That said, Nick said in 2016 that he had forgotten about that year’s Election Day. “We’re focused on other things here,” he explained, per Saturday Down South. “I don’t really make political comments. So if I say I like one person, that means that everybody [who] voted for the other person doesn’t like me. So, why would I do that?”
Nick endorsed Democrat Joe Manchin for U.S. Senate.
In 2018, Nick appeared in a political ad for his childhood friend Joe Manchin, who was campaigning for re-election as a Democratic U.S. senator from West Virginia.
“Joe and I grew up together in West Virginia, and he never forgets where he came from.” Nick said in the ad. “I don’t have a better friend or know a better person than Joe Manchin.”
But his support of a Democrat doesn’t necessarily mean Nick is a Democrat himself: The Atlantic’s Clare Foran deemed Manchin “the Senate’s most conservative and Donald Trump-friendly Democrat” the previous year.
He also said it was “an honor” to have Trump attend a game.
In 2019, ahead of then-President Donald Trump’s visit to the SEC West game between Alabama and LSU, Nick said that it was “an honor” to welcome Trump.
“Well, it’s an honor, I think, that the President of the United States would be interested enough to come to the game,” he said, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “I’m sure we’ll do everything we can to welcome him.”
Nick and his team had visited Trump in the White House once by that point, along with four trips to visit former President Barack Obama in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve been to the White House several times, and it’s always a very, very flattering, unique experience,” Nick added.
(The following year, Trump called mistakenly referred to Nick as “Lou Saban” during a phone call, according to CNN.)