published Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Alabama Crimson Tide's Nick Saban one of best coaches ever

Alabama coach Nick Saban leads the Alabama Crimson Tide onto the field.
Alabama coach Nick Saban leads the Alabama Crimson Tide onto the field.
Photo by Associated Press.
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FOUR-YEAR PHENOMS

The greatest four-year runs in SEC football history under one coach in chronological order, including the records, coaches and number of league titles:

YEARS — SCHOOL — RECORD — COACH — TITLES

1934-37 — Alabama — 33-3-2 — Frank Thomas — 2

1937-40 — Tennessee — 37-5-1 — Robert Neyland — 3

1949-52 — Tennessee — 36-6-2 — Robert Neyland — 1

1957-60 — Auburn — 34-5-1 — Shug Jordan — 1

1958-61 — LSU — 35-7-1 — Paul Dietzel — 1

1959-62 — Ole Miss — 39-3-1 — Johnny Vaught — 2

1961-64 — Alabama — 40-4-0 — Bear Bryant — 2

1971-74 — Alabama — 43-5-0 — Bear Bryant — 4

1977-80 — Alabama — 44-4-0 — Bear Bryant — 3

1980-83 — Georgia — 43-4-1 — Vince Dooley — 3

1986-89 — Auburn — 39-7-2 — Pat Dye — 3

1993-96 — Florida — 45-6-1 — Steve Spurrier — 4

1995-98 — Tennessee — 45-5-0 — Phillip Fulmer — 2

2002-05 — Georgia — 44-9-0 — Mark Richt — 2

2006-09 — Florida — 48-7-0 — Urban Meyer — 2

2008- — Alabama — 43-5-0 — Nick Saban — 1

The Mount Rushmore of Southeastern Conference football coaches may have its fourth face.

After Tennessee's Robert Neyland, Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant and Florida's Steve Spurrier dominated their respective eras in the SEC, former LSU and current Alabama coach Nick Saban continues to stake his claim as an all-time great. Saban is the first coach in league history to guide two programs to national championships, and if his 7-0 Crimson Tide can finish 14-0 for a second time in three years, he would win a record 50 games in a four-year stretch.

His latest victim, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, has no reservations placing Saban among the league's elite historically.

"They've already got a statue down there, don't they?" Nutt said. "I think you can go ahead and do that. Whenever you hold up that crystal ball, I think you've done something very special, and he's done it at two schools."

Alabama has reeled off wins over Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by the average score of 42-8 entering Saturday night's game against visiting Tennessee, but what has Crimson Tide fans even more excited is that Saban doesn't seem to be leaving any time soon. When Alabama opens its 2012 season against Michigan in Dallas, it would be the first time Saban has entered a sixth year in the same locale.

He turns 60 on Halloween, though he looks noticeably younger and has the energy of most people half his age, especially when he finds a question from the media unsettling.

"When I came here, I came here with the idea that I would be here for the rest of my career," Saban said. "I had moved around a lot and made some mistakes moving around, probably, and I sort of learned from some of those things and sort of found out from some of those experiences who you are and what you're really all about. So as long as I feel healthy and I'm excited about coaching and teaching and being around players, I would like to stay here for as long as I could.

"Of course, everybody knows you've got to be successful to do that, and hopefully we'll be able to continue to recruit and develop players so that we can."

RECRUITING MACHINE

Alabama athletic director Mal Moore tells a story about flying back to Tuscaloosa in January 2007 after hiring Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

At one point, Saban turned to Moore and said, "You must think I'm a heck of a coach," and Moore responded, "Well, yeah, I do, and that's why I hired you." Saban then said, "Well, I'm not. If I can't get the kids in here, we can't win. You've got to get the athletes in here."

Has he ever.

Alabama has landed Rivals.com's top recruiting class nationally three of the past four years. The lone exception was 2010, when a crop headed by linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive backs Dee Milliner and DeQuan Menzie was ranked fifth.

"He's an excellent coach with an excellent staff," said Spurrier, who guided the Gators to six SEC championships in 12 years and led South Carolina to its first SEC East title last season. "They know how to recruit, and after they recruit them, they know how to coach them. That's how he does it. He's also been at two schools with tremendous traditions, which is helpful in recruiting."

Saban signed the nation's top class at LSU in 2003, and his '04 class in Baton Rouge was rated No. 2. So since '03, Saban has assembled a top-five class every year with the exception of his two seasons with the NFL's Dolphins and his first year at Alabama, when he arrived just weeks before signing day.

LSU was 26-20 in the four seasons before Saban's arrival, including a 3-8 finish in 1999, but Saban went 48-16 in five years with two SEC championships and the BCS title. Alabama was 26-24 in its four years before Saban, who has won 50 of 61 games with the Tide, though NCAA sanctions later vacated five wins in '07.

Saban is the only Alabama coach to lose to Louisiana-Monroe, and he's 4-5 against rival Auburn, but such negatives are getting harder and harder to find.

"Defensively is where you see his hand or his personality, the toughness and the aggressiveness, and then he'll mix some things on you," said Nutt, whose Rebels got waxed 52-7 last Saturday. "He does a lot of mixture with the fronts and the secondary, and then the blitz packages with different zone pressures that make you play faster than you want."

GROWING LEGACY

This used to be the most entertaining week of the year on WGOW-FM's "SportTalk" show, as Alabama and Tennessee fans would call in to praise their team and bash the other. The Vols won nine of 10 in the series from 1995 to 2004, but Alabama is undefeated against Tennessee under Saban and a four-touchdown favorite Saturday.

"In my 22 years with the show, this is the least anticipated Tennessee-Alabama game from a Tennessee perspective," co-host Scott "Quake" McMahen said.

Nobody endured more abuse on the air when Phillip Fulmer's Vols ruled the series than "Bama Jean" Adair, a former president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the Alabama Alumni & Friends Association. Now she dials in with great joy, believing that Saban just might be the best coach in program history.

"The Bear in his day could have 180 players on the sideline, and it's not like that anymore," she said. "Saban is all business, and he hires good coaches and gets his work done. I know some of these Bear-crazy people will be hacked off by me saying this, but I can't help it.

"I think he is better, and you can't help but have comfort that he's there. He never fails to thank the fans, and that's probably why there is a waiting list of 20,000 people to get into Tide Pride to get tickets."

Saban and former Florida coach Urban Meyer are the only SEC coaches other than Bryant to win multiple national championships. Meyer won two in six years with the Gators before retiring after last season.

LSU's Les Miles, who succeeded Saban and won a national title in 2007, is now his chief challenger, and the demands that wore Meyer down don't seem to affect Saban or Miles.

"What you're called on to do as a coach is to try and get your team to play to the best of their ability," Saban said. "I've always been kind of a process-oriented guy and not really result-oriented, and I've really tried to stay focused on that and not thinking about the consequences of what might happen, good or bad, but what you need to do to make things happen the way you would like for them to happen.

"That's kind of how I try to manage it, and it's always how I've tried to manage it."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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Humphrey said...

Right after he left MSU, ncaa problems. Right after he left LSU, ncaa problems. Alabama is on probation right now, so if they get more ncaa problems from stuff like "suit gate" they will get the hammer. The ncaa "bump" rule is named after this guy because he constantly skirts the edge of what is legal in recruiting. Speaking of "suit gate" - last year everyone in the media was quick to jump on any kind of rumor or innuendo to try to keep Cam Newton - obviously the best player in ncaa - from winning the Heisman. Now we know that the NCAA cleared Newton, but the media still drug him through the dirt so bad some people still refuse to believe it. This year there is all this photographic evidence of Trent Richardson getting benefits on the net, but the media won't touch it. What is the double standard?

October 19, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

Is this the guy who makes $4 million a year or something like that for coaching a bunch of boys playing a game?? He makes 10 times what the president makes for COACHING a GAME! I just want to be sure I've got that right. Now I'll go back in my cave.

"Hurl the pointy pigskin, boys, we've all gone insane..."

October 19, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.
D1Woody said...

First of all Hump, MSU did not go on probation because Nick Saban. The sanctions were levied under Nick's tenure due to his predecessor. The LSU sanctions were due to an assistant coach and there is no such thing as "suitgate". People like you (the fans opposing teams) and the media created "suitgate" while Cam was facing punishment from Florida for his third time cheating on tests, possessing a stolen computer and throwing it out the window when the police arrived, then his father appears on tape trying to prostitute his son to Mississippi State for 180k dollars. I would love to see your so called "photographic evidence" of Richardson getting benefits. The last time I checked, a LOT of college players wear suits to the stadium before games and sign autographs. There are several articles about your Alabama suit scandal on the internet from USA Today, Al.com and so forth and yet nothing comes of it. Probably because there is nothing to come out.

and HC... The university hired a man for 4 million and received an 11 million dollar return in one year. I'd say it was a good investment.

"federal records show Alabama football turned a profit of more than $38 million in the last academic year. That's an almost 40 percent gain from the year before Saban was hired in 2007."

Also,

"Football revenue jumped 16% in Saban's first two years — from nearly $56 million before he arrived to almost $65 million in 2008. Gaston conservatively projects a $39 million profit for 2009 and, with the expanded stadium and ticket demand, says he expects the climb to continue."

October 19, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.
D1Woody said...

Also HC, this "game these boys play" helps keep thousands of kids away from drugs and thugs, gives them something to focus on, an opportunity to go to college that they might not otherwise have. College football coaches do not just coach a game. They teach teamwork, respect and discipline. They are academic, athletic, personal advisors and father figures to a lot of kids who need one.

October 19, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
Salsa said...

When the president's record is as good as Saban's then maybe he can get a pay raise. So far, he owes us a refund.

October 19, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
Humphrey said...

See, Woody, you are a great example of what I am talking about. Let's break down what you said. "MSU did not go on probation because Nick Saban, The sanctions were levied under Nick's tenure due to his predecessor." Nope, you are wrong. MSU didn't go on probation. MSU was not on probation while Saban was there. MSU was targeted with minor violations after Saban left.

"While Cam was facing punishment from Florida for his third time cheating on tests" That right there is 100% untrue. You have spun a lie that was spread by Jody Wright to Pete Thamal even farther than it was when it was first told. That is a lie. "n his father appears on tape trying to prostitute his son to Mississippi State for 180k dollars." An MSU alum and booster told Cecil that he knew another MSU booster that would give him 180K, and called him in the presence of two MSU assistant coaches. And MSU continued to recruit Cam after knowing this, and didn't report it to the NCAA and SEC until months later.

You haven't even got the rumors right, but you keep repeating them as if they were fact. They weren't. But the media ran with them. Show the usa today story about Richardson and T-town menswear. Your own post is proof that the Newton story was spun so hard that people think that they know "the facts" but don't. There were people on the radio, papers, espn openly pushing for Newton not to get the Heisman. I've heard none of that for Richardson, and you couldn't get away from it with Newton. And Alabama is on probation RIGHT NOW. Let's see: Photo's of Trent Richardson signing autographs sold by Al-Betar at T-town menswear: http://sportsbybrooks.com/tag/katrina_richardson (oh, and Al-Bater had pictures of Richardson's new house on there also) Al-Bater throwing Trent a birthday party: http://sportsbybrooks.com/pix-bama-booster-at-t-richardson-birthday-party-29830 And Al-Bater's picture of Trent's 2011 Yukon and the speeding ticket that shows it in Trent's name: http://sportsbybrooks.com/docs-richardsons-2011-yukon-with-large-rims-29854

That is a ton more evidence that the rumors that were about Newton last year, but you accept the rumors of Newton as true, even though UF officials said the test cheating rumor (that you exaggerated) wasn't true, even though the NCAA clearly found Newton innocent of the MSU offer of money to his Dad. But this year, no one is (yet) campaigning against Richardson.

Although, come to think about it, that didn't really start last year until November, did it? Nevermind, maybe we have some news to look forward to.

October 19, 2011 at 3:17 p.m.
D1Woody said...

Oh, you're talking about secondary violations? there are over 1500 secondary violations per year by many schools. I thought you may have been talking about violations that matter. Cam Newton was facing expulsion at Florida for academic cheating, the reason he transferred to Blinn College. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5783051. The junk story you just gave is false. "The N.C.A.A. acknowledged last fall that Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, shopped his son to Mississippi State for nearly $200,000"

I cant provide a link you requested for the archived USA Today article but the date was July 26, 2011, on the front page. YOUR problem is you are linking to stories by Sports by Brooks which most of us who follow sports know it is a SPORTS GOSSIP BLOG. I get my information from news sources not blogs so if you want to reference anything else by SBB or Outkickthecoverage.com, I'm not going to read it. It is the National Enquirer of the sports world. The "ticket" posted on the website is a fake. It lists the wrong birth year and his 2011 Yukon is actually a 2007 Yukon.

October 19, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
Humphrey said...

Pete Thamal wrote in a blog at foxsports.com that an "un-named" source said that Cam Newton was going to be expelled at UF for cheating, and other media outlets (like the espn link you sited) repeated it as if it was a fact, although the university of florida said it was not true and the faculty on the committee that overseas student cheating violations said it was not true. It was never verified! But it is posted all over the internet as if it was true based on Thamal's un-named source. This is the same Thamal that said it was OK to accept money from a school's rivals to write negative reports.

I'm sorry but you're really not getting my point. Rumors that were unsubstantiated about Cam Newton - this is a perfect example, the Florida "cheating" that you are accepting as true based on this one "Un-named source" was reported all over the media and accepted as truth. The pictures of Trent Richardson signing autographs for t-town menswear and those being used to promote that business, an obvious NCAA violation in pictures, are only on a "sports gossip blog." Do you get it? That it is a double standard? Because the way I see it, you are making my point for me. One rumor is run with and treated as true, another isn't, despite pictures you can see with your own eyes, much more evidence than an "un-named" source, especially when you have to know that there are plenty of people with lots of agendas. There was no source, just reporters repeating what each other said. Thamal is NOT reputable, but I agree with you Brooks isn't either. Except this is PICTURES he is posting, not a rumor he said somebody told him, which is 100% what Thamal's lie about Newton was.

It is this kind of denial that is going to get alabama the death penalty.

October 19, 2011 at 5:23 p.m.
sparky7 said...

Humphrey, I went to Auburn and am a big Cam Newton supporter. The facts, unfortunately, are that the NCAA did NOT find that Cam was innocent. First, the NCAA stated that Cecil was guilty of shopping Cam. On Cam, they did not say there was no evidence that Cam committed any NCAA violation. Rather, the NCAA stated that while they was evidence against Cam, they were unsure that they had enough evidence to find that Cam was guilty. The NCAA clearly stated that they were closing the investigation, not that they were closing the case. They could have stated, if they had no evidence against Cam, that he was innocent and permanently closed the case. Rather, the NCAA said if they became aware of "additional evidence," they would re-open the investigation. I wanted to make sure you recognized the difference between finding someone innocent and not having enough evidence to find someone guilty.

October 19, 2011 at 6:45 p.m.
D1Woody said...

The fact that T-town Menswear displays signed memorabilia by current players does not cause a player eligibility issues. Same for players who are photographed inside the business signing an autograph. It is only an issue if the players know it is being used to promote the business, they are receiving free or discounted items or they are outright selling their autograph. The fact that the university was notified and realized this could be an issue, sent a cease and desist letter then disassociated themselves (and did so way before this story came out) results in this not being an eligibility issue. I guess there is also room for interpretation in the rules. Otherwise, if Sports Illustrated sets up an interview with a current player then the player obviously knows the story will be published, SI is using the article to sell their magazine then why is that not a violation? I guess we should call a truce seeing how Richardson is eligible, Cam/Auburn was cleared so we should both be pretty happy considering everything... until the Iron Bowl that is

October 19, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.
dl said...

Nick tends to learn from his mistakes - if we all could do that the US would be in a lot better shape.

October 19, 2011 at 8:25 p.m.
callison said...

Salsa is a moron.

October 19, 2011 at 8:59 p.m.
Jamesr6 said...

Humphrey, first of all, fact, Bama is not on probation.

Secondly, it's typical that you wanna take a local blogger like sportsbybrooks and believe everything he states as fact when it's about Bama. But you dismiss all the stories he broke on the $cam Newton situation. So which is it, you can't have it both ways unless you want to go ahead and admit you're a hypocrit. He released more of the info on $cam than anyone yet you say it was all innuendo yet when the same small town country sports blogger "creates" a story about T-town menswear, simply because he caught wind that they received a cease and desist order from UA six months earlier, you treat it like fact.

Thirdly, ask anyone that has anything to do with sports reporting and they will tell you that Thamel is one of, if not the best one around anywhere hands down. Sports by Brooks is just a UGA blogger that trys to stir the pot to get hits on his web so he can get paid more by his advertisers. And you take it hook, line, and sinker.

October 20, 2011 at 7:22 a.m.
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