Whether you like him or not Nick Saban is the best modern college football coach. Many historians will point out that other coaches have a better winning percentage but that was before 12 team power conferences, the proliferation of the NFL and student athletes leaving early. With all of the off the field issues coaches have to deal with today it is amazing to see the program Nick Saban has built in less than a decade.
Nick Saban at Michigan State and LSU
Some people may not remember that Nick Saban truly started his career at Michigan State. He coached at Toledo for one season, won nine games and move to the Big 10 Conference. At Michigan State Saban turned the program into a nine win team and a Big 10 Title contender. It was clear that Nick Saban was ready for the big time when he took the job at LSU in 2000. In his fourth season in Baton Rouge Saban won the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship. Two years later he decided to jump ship and head to the NFL.
While at Michigan State and LSU Saban was known for his defensive blitz packages. He had a very unique defensive scheme that required players at all positions to go after the quarterback on any given play. The final play of the 2004 Sugar Bowl was a sack of the Oklahoma quarterback by a blitzing LSU linebacker. Those that watched the game can remember the linebacker coming through untouched to seal the national championship for LSU.
Nick Saban at Alabama
After testing the NFL waters for a few years Nick Saban decided to head back to the college game. He was hired by Alabama and had a little bit of a rough start. In his first year at Alabama he went 7-6 with a loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Crimson Tide won the Independence Bowl at the conclusion of his first year. This was the kickoff to an amazing run for Saban and the Tide. Over the next
five years the Alabama Crimson Tide went 61-7 with three national championships. The lowest final ranking for a Saban coached team was #10.
Heading into the 2013 season it was a given that Alabama was the best team in the country. Even with a bullseye square on their chest the Crimson Tide have still been a force to be reckoned with. Other than the Texas A&M game the Tide defense has given up a total of 26 points which averages out to a little more than four points a game. Yes, four points a game is what the Tide has surrendered minus the A&M game. Remember that Nick Saban blitz scheme that he was known for at Michigan State and LSU? Well, he has perfected that while standing on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa.
When watching an Alabama game, it is clear that Saban has the most well coached team on the field. This has become apparent every single weekend as other top five teams struggle yet Alabama blasts their opponents by 30 points or more. This is what makes me think that Nick Saban is slowly becoming the best college football coach in the history of the game. There are many reasons that college football should produce different national champions every year. Even with all the rules put in place Nick Saban still finds a way to produce the best team in the nation year in and year out.
The New College Football
College football is much different today than when most of the legends were coaching. Heck, Gatorade wasn’t even invented when some of the claimed “greatest coaches” were patrolling the sidelines. Today, Nick Saban has to deal with recruiting, social media, TV contracts, the attraction of the NFL and a plethora of other issues that were not a problem 30 or 40 years ago. The age of information and the Internet has change the way kids grow up. There is access to much more and the ability to go anywhere and do anything is a cause for concern for most coaches.
With some coaches completely losing control of their teams it is amazing to see Nick Saban find a way to keep his program running like a well oiled machine. Like any program, there are a few bumps and bruises along the way. That said, there are no major events that have happened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama like there are in places such as College State, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. This is just another reason Nick Saban is the best coach in college football history.
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