Paul Jacob

Perhaps Wilbon is worried that Saban may have unwittingly sparked a revolution between the political haves and the political please-leave-me-aloners. Will we soon see congressional hearings on whether citizens should be compelled to eat meals with the head of state upon notification? Perhaps with some process for judicial review. Or not.

It's not as if Saban has got any axe to grind against politicians. (Sadly.) He let then-President Clinton sleep on his office couch during a presidential visit to Michigan State. (Ever heard about this? If Reagan had napped there, it would have been big news.) And Saban's best friend growing up was Joe Manchin, now governor of West Virginia.

"I can't even tell you what [Joe's] political deal is, to be honest with you," Saban remarked. "But he's my friend."

Keeps commitments. A work ethic. Friends before politics. Boy, Saban really is oblivious to the world of politics.

But his football world is not so different from the world of other private sector businesses. Success requires making tough decisions, demonstrating real leadership, fulfilling responsibilities, keeping commitments. Business owners and managers spend the long hours required to succeed or they don't succeed. Those workloads and commitments often require saying no to others.

And all the above — in football and in the marketplace — requires freedom. The freedom to follow your own dream. To listen to your own voice — not the president's. Or anyone else's. The freedom to be committed to something you deem worth all the effort.

Is this "arrogance"? No. It's what makes America great.

So, if you follow football, watch out for the Miami Dolphins this season. Saban's principles lead to success. And worse still for opposing teams, Saban's players are catching Saban's bug.

Defensive end Jason Taylor was also invited to the presidential dinner by Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, and he, too, decided not to go. "It's great to be able to do some things like that, but I've got an obligation here," said Taylor. "I've got a job to do and a responsibility."

Miami's safety Travares Tillman called Saban "a football guy. He'll take us over the president any day."

Politicians everywhere would do well to suspend whatever they're doing — either wrecking the country or campaigning for the job — to attend Saban's pre-season football camp. They might learn something about arrogance, and teamwork — even life. They might actually meet some incarnations of the spirit that makes America great, like they talk about in their speeches.

Of course, dealing with all those politicians won't help the Dolphins any. That's for sure. But then again, the Dolphins aren't my team.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.