Unless you live under a rock, you know who Nick Saban is. How you feel about him though, may differ depending on who you ask. Nick Saban is widely viewed as not only one of the greatest coaches of his generation, but of all time as well. Boasting a collegiate record of 274-67-1 (.803), it is no surprise as to why. How did Saban go from a boy in Fairmont, West Virginia to the king of the NCAA?
Saban’s first title was almost 60 years ago, he quarterbacked his high school to a West Virginia state title in 1968. From there, Saban continued his playing career at Kent State University, home of the Golden Flashes, where he was a defensive back. Saban was known to seek contact and always looked to make a big hit. It was the choice of being a Golden Flash that helped start his coaching career. After his degree in 1973, Saban joined the program as a graduate assistant and later joined the staff. Here, he would learn under Don James, a coach Saban still holds in high esteem.
Saban did not stumble into the Alabama job he holds today. The legendary coach had to endure years of paying his dues and learning from other opportunities. Saban would act as an assistant coach at programs such as Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, Michigan State and even the Houston Oilers of the NFL before he got his first look as a head coach. That look would come from the University of Toledo in 1989. Saban came in and made an immediate impact, boosting their record by 3 wins with a 9-2 inaugural season record.
Saban’s time at Toledo was short lived, the next season he found himself two hours East in Cleveland as the Browns‘ defensive coordinator where he spent four years and refers to them as the “worst of my life”.
Saban pivoted back into the realm of college football taking over at Michigan State in 1995. The first three seasons were improvements from the three-season predating the Saban era, but not by much. In 1998 the Spartans did upset #1 ranked Ohio State in the Buckeyes stadium, the biggest bright spot of his time there. Saban led the 1999 team to a 9-2 regular season record and resigned before the team could play their Bowl game.
Saban ended his time at Michigan State to take over the LSU Tigers program in November of 1999, leading them to two SEC Championships as well as a BCS National Championship in 2003 with a win over the #1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Saban’s success at LSU caught the eye of the NFL and Saban found himself as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2004.
The Miami job would start out hot with a 9-7 opening season but the 2006 season would bring trouble. With Daunte Culpepper not panning out in Miami and a rollercoaster of a schedule, Saban found himself with his first losing season ever as a head coach at 6-10. That would be the last of Nick Saban and Miami.
January 3rd, 2007. A date that will go down in Alabama football history. Coach Nick Saban announces he will accept the head coaching offer from the University of Alabama. While there, Alabama has won eight SEC championships and six national championships. More impressive, they have won seven SEC titles and four national championships in the last ten seasons with a record of 128-13 (.908). We will just have to wait and see how many the King of the NCAA retires with.
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