Saban Approaching Rarified Air

Saban and Alabama go for their fourth title in five years.

The college football season is fast approaching and if you can find a poll that doesn’t have the Alabama Crimson Tide at the number one spot then its either run by a soccer fan or its’ just a Bama hater. Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide enter the 2013 season as the overwhelming favorites to win the final BCS title. The NCAA has finally taken the slightest step towards a real playoff with a four-team event that will start next season.

The man running college football’s current dynasty is a lightning rod to be sure. He has far more detractors than he does fans for a myriad of reasons but no one can dispute the results he gets. The Crimson Tide are attempting to win their third straight national title and fourth and five years.

If you visit cities like East Lansing, Baton Rouge and Miami you’ll probably find many of those detractors and the majority of the reasons why he is so vilified.

After one season at Toledo which was a 9-2 campaign, Saban went to the Cleveland Browns to become the defensive coordinator for head coach Bill Belichick. He then took the head coaching job at Michigan State where the team was very mediocre until his final season in 1999 when he had the Spartans at 9-2 and headed to the Citrus Bowl. Saban promptly resigned following the season finale against Penn State announcing he was leaving for the same position at LSU.

With the Spartans’ faithful up in arms over this betrayal, Saban made it worse by saying that “MSU couldn’t win consistently with rival Michigan always being better.”

LSU fans would soon feel the ultimate high of a national title, Saban’s first, in his fourth season in Baton Rogue but following his fifth he bolted for the NFL again this time to become head coach of the Dolphins.

Saban’s first season in Miami was fairly succesful as he went 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs. His second season was a disaster as the team went 6-10 and then the rumors of Alabama seeking him began. Saban deflected questions about the opening in Tuscaloosa even to the point of getting angry at press conferences as he continued to state he “was staying in Miami.”

Saban is chasing the legendary Bear Bryant who has six national titles.

In January of 2007, Saban officially became head coach of the Tide and the rest as they say is history.

Should Saban’s Crimson Tide go on to win the national title this season, that would give Saban five national championships and would leave him one short of the record. That record is held by former Alabama Head Coach Bear Bryant who earned six. There are some that will tell you Michigan’s Fielding Yost has six as well but that was in a far different era with numerous polling systems.

Coach Saban has already started the motivational mantra for the 2013 season. At last week’s SEC Media Day, Saban said he showed the team the epic Mike Tyson-James “Buster” Douglas fight in which Douglas amazingly knocked out the seemingly invincible Tyson. The idea was to let his team know that every underdog they face in this season will be looking to knock them out.

In Alabama’s weight-room which looks more like a temple or shrine, Saban has plastered the Texas A&M logo all over the weights and has the video of last season’s loss to the Aggies running on the flat screens at all times. The two teams will clash in the third game of the season in College Station.

Regardless of what you think of Saban, he gets results. Oddsmakers love him as well. Entering the final weeks of 2012, Saban was winning against the spread at a clip of about 60%. His overall record at Alabama is 68-13 and his Tide will likely enter every game this year as a significant favorite.

Successful football coaches are not always the nicest people and they don’t always have the best relationship with the media but if they win and do it without major off-field issues, then they are worshiped and such is the case in Alabama. Saban seems to finally have found a place he wants to stay but folks in East Lansing, Baton Rogue and Miami thought that too.