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Saban’s Retirement Food for Thought

Nick Saban on stage at the SEC Championship Game

Saban’s Retirement Food for Thought

Players and coaches like to end their careers on top. How much higher can you get than undefeated National Champion? Should Alabama defeat Clemson, also undefeated, Monday night, Nick Saban would break the tie of six with Paul Bear Bryant, to win his seventh National Championship. Wouldn’t it shock the college football world if he retired? It would be the perfect ending for the great one. If he continues, he may not have the opportunity to retire on the tippy, tippy top, undefeated. It can’t get any better than that unless of course, you go undefeated in back to back years.

Love him or hate him Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all-time. Yes, I said it, the Bear won six championships at one school, Saban at LSU and Alabama. Its one thing to build a successful program in one place and ride that momentum, but to do it twice is amazing. He has built a recruiting machine that runs on the fumes of championships. The Tide is rolling with future #1 NFL Draft picks, most in the NFL with twenty-six dating back to 2009, eight in the last two years.

Some may argue my assertion; I can accept that. Many coaches put together a great season or two but fail to maintain it, which begets the question is it easier to build success or maintain it? Saban is a rare breed he excels at both. After a short stint in the NFL as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, some defining moment occurred because he returned to college football in 2007 with an obsessive mission to build an absolute powerhouse.

Nick Saban the greatest coach of all time
Nick Saban celebrates the 2018 SEC Championship with his players (photo by Dennis Morton)

Attrition for players is natural, each year they transition. His coaches are on a carousel being sought after by other programs throughout the country, hoping to capture some of that championship magic. All he does is win, win, win. I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think Bear Bryant lost as many coaches.

Alabama has played in 4 straight championships. This will make Saban’s eighth if it goes his way seven out of eight.  To add to the phenomenon, the two greatest collegiate coaches of all-time have been in BAMA. What’s in the water in Tuscaloosa?

Teams in every sport want to win, Bama expects to win, they walk to a different beat. Case in point before the 2018 National Championship game strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran smashed the 2017 Runner UP trophy in the floor then took a sledgehammer to it.  It was a form of motivation while making a statement “second place is unacceptable”.

In sports, everyone wants to build a dynasty, all fans want to see their team on top. When it occurs, I don’t understand the resentment. Greatness is what everyone should aspire to be, but there is such a backlash when success is maintained at the championship level. People say “oh I am tired of seeing them.” Is it backlash or ole fashion jealousy? I for one respect and admire it.

Deservedly so, Brian Kelly, this year’s coach of the year led Notre Dame to the college football playoffs, most people thought it was their best chance of making it the National Championship game since forever. They were 12-0 until they ran into a buzz saw of some hungry Clemson Tigers. If the measuring stick is one hundred miles per hour, Saban is in cruise control at ninety-nine.  Championship level is the norm. He can only gain one mile per hour. Kelly has taken the Irish from zero to one hundred, my point, his run is noticeable, there was incredible improvement going from irrelevant to relevant. Saban’s greatness is taken for granted.

Take nothing away from Kyler Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, he is an awesome talent. And was it not on display in the Orange Bowl. Wow, what a game he played? However, there’s a discussion taking place in the shadows about Tua Tagovailoa the runner-up perhaps being slighted in the crossfire of the Bama Backlash.

Rod Broadway, the former head coach of North Carolina A&T, a legend in his own right. He is the only coach that’s won HBCU National Championships at three different schools. He rescued the program from obscurity, 27 straight loses and built it into an FCS powerhouse winning two National Championships in 3 years. He could not resist the allure of retiring on the tippy top as the MEAC’ s only undefeated National Champions.

The odds of repeating as undefeated National Champions are daunting, perhaps they will be too daunting for Nick Saban, but remember, they have that special water in Tuscaloosa. He deserves to go out on his own terms. The question is what those terms are? How long will he coach?

When will he know it’s time? We all know, “all good things come to an end”. The clock is ticking. No rush from this writer Coach Saban,  “you are the greatest I have ever seen I am one to appreciate the greatness of a living legend.”

 

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