Alabama’s Nick Saban Looks To Make History With Title Game Win Over Clemson

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Saban looking seventh national chammpionship

ABOVE VIDEO: Coaching legends, such as Bill Belichick, Bobby Bowden, Geno Auriemma and Scotty Bowman, share their appreciation for Alabama coach Nick Saban and his sustained greatness.

TAMPA, FLORIDA Nick Saban is arguably— and I’d like to hear those arguments, the best head coach in all sports and if he wins tonight and captures his sixth National Championship in the past eight years, it could be argued that Saban is one of the best head coaches in any sport all-time.

Much of the talk surrounding tonight’s kickoff is about Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

No coach today or perhaps ever has had the success that Saban has had at Alabama. Counting SEC Championships, Saban has won his last nine “championship” games with wins over Florida (2009, 2015, 2016), Georgia (2012) and Missouri (2014) in the SEC Championship Game and victories over Texas (2009), LSU (2011), Notre Dame (2012) and Clemson (2015) in national championship contests.

Overall, Saban is 12-1 in those games at Alabama and LSU with seven SEC titles and five national titles. Ironically, if Saban’s Tide can win tonight, he will match another former Alabama great in Paul “Bear” Bryant with six National Championships as Tide coach.

The numbers surrounding what Saban has accomplished is astounding.

The College Football Playoff Championship Game will be Nick Saban’s 50th career game coaching Alabama as the Associated Press No. 1 team, the most games coached as No. 1 at one school.

At 44-5 (.898), Saban has won more games coaching a No. 1 team at one school than any other coach in college football history.

Woody Hayes (Ohio State) and Bobby Bowden (Florida State) are tied for second with 40 wins each. Bowden was 40-5 as No. 1 and Hayes went 40-4-1. Saban reached 50 games in his 10th season at Alabama while Bowden spent 34 seasons at FSU and Hayes was at OSU for 28.

The Crimson Tide has been ranked No. 1 in 35.8 percent of the 137 games under Saban. Florida State was No. 1 in 10.8 percent of Bowden’s 417 games and Ohio State was No. 1 in 16.7 percent of the 276 games coached by Hayes.

Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 112 games, the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama finished 13-1 in 2012, 11-2 in 2013, 12-2 in 2014 and 14-1 in 2015. Boise State is second with 100 wins.

During that stretch, Alabama has played in only three regular-season games that did not have national championship implications. Following the Crimson Tide’s 24-21 loss to LSU in 2010, Alabama was essentially eliminated from a chance to remain in the national championship discussion.

ABOVE VIDEO: Alabama head coach Nick Saban previewed Clemson and discussed preparing the offense for the game, giving new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian his seal of approval as the Tide preps for Monday night’s championship game. He also talked about Jalen Hurts’ dissatisfaction with his last game.

The final three games of that season mark the only three regular season contests without national championship implications during this span.

The Crimson Tide are 48-12 (.800) against the Associated Press Top 25, including a 25-6 (.806) mark against AP top-10 teams since the start of 2008.

This season, the Tide has faced nine teams ranked in the AP poll, defeating then-No. 20 USC, 52-6, then-No. 19 Ole Miss, 48-43, then-No. 16 Arkansas, 49-30, then-No. 9 Tennessee, 49-10, then-No. 6 Texas A&M, 33-14, then-No. 15 LSU, 10-0, then-No. 16 Auburn, 30-12, then-No. 15 Florida, 54-16, and today No. 4 Washington, 24-7, by an average score of 38.7-15.3.

Tonight, Alabama has one more matchup against a team currently in the top 25. Alabama finished 8-1 in 2015 against the AP Top 25 after going 5-2 in 2014, 3-2 in 2013 and 5-1 in 2012.

The Tide held a 4-1 mark vs. top-25 teams in 2011 and went 5-3 in 2010.

Some argue that Saban is to college football what Bill Belichick is to the NFL and those are fair comparisons, especially when you consider Saban coached and learned under two Belichick’s in his coaching career.

ABOVE VIDEO: Alabama coach Nick Saban joins College GameDay to explain how he is preparing to face Clemson QB Deshaun Watson for the second season in a row as well as how he is coaching his team to maintain their composure. (ESPN)

Saban was an assistant at the Naval Academy when Bill’s father Steve was the backfield coach and head scout in Annapolis in 1982. In 1991 Bill hired Nick away from University of Toledo, where Saban had accepted his first college head coaching job to become the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

From 1991-1994, under Saban, the Browns defense went from allowing the most points in the NFL prior to his arrival to allowing the fewest points in 1994. His defensive unit allowed a league-low 21 touchdowns and 204 points in 1994, the sixth-fewest points surrendered in NFL history at the time.

In 1995 Saban returned to college at Michigan State for five seasons as head coach. His 1999 Spartans team defeated Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all in the same year for the first time since 1965 and recorded six wins at home for the first time since the 1912 season.

The 99′ team finished seventh in the rankings and became the first Michigan State squad to win 10 games in one season in 34 years. Saban also tutored four first-team All-Americans and 10 NFL draft picks.

He left Michigan State for LSU in 2000 where he would win his first National Championship three years later.

In 2003 The Tigers started the season with five wins before losing to Florida. After the loss to Florida, LSU did not lose again in the regular season and ended its regular season with a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks to win the SEC West. After winning the SEC West, the Tigers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

They were ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings and advanced to play the BCS No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl, where the Tigers won the game 21–14.

The win gave LSU the BCS national championship and a 13–1 finish for the season.

The lone black mark on his resume came when he returned to coach in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 2006.  Saban would finish 9-7 in year one and then essentially quit following Miami’s 6-10 season in 2006 to accept the head coaching position at Alabama in January of 2007.

No great coach walks or walked a sideline without a blemish somewhere on his resume and while the Dolphins job is Saban’s blemish, bouncing back to do what he has done at Alabama is nothing short of amazing.

Bill Belichick hired Nick away from University of Toledo, where Saban had accepted his first college head coaching job to become the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. (Alabama.com)

A win tonight and Saban will have won his seventh national championship, sixth with Alabama.

At 65-years old, college’s are turning more and more to younger head coaches. Considering the work that must be done to be successful, it’s no wonder.

College isn’t like the NFL, in my opinion— it’s harder to coach. The young men must be wooed not with money  but with promises of playing time, a starting roles etc… coaches may not be able to keep promises and are less willing to keep (a degree, for instance) should the player not pan out.

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Coaches must essentially babysit the team. Urban Meyer left Florida because he lost control of a team off the field in Gainesville.

Not to mention that while immaturity runs rampant in the NFL, college players arrive on campuses at perhaps the most vulnerable time of their lives–as teenagers, many away from home for the first time, many unprepared from the rigors of a college classroom, many still harboring unrealistic NFL dreams and huge ego’s from having been the best at their high school.

Then there is developing that talent with little time to do so.  College coaches see their most talented players leave after two productive seasons, if you’re lucky—maybe three. So coaches and their staffs must work tirelessly 365-24-7 to stock the pipeline and make the right choices in doing so.

Then toss in the type of winning Saban has accomplished and I have a feeling I’ll be waiting on those arguments as to who is—or has ever been better at this level of coaching.

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