A Thank You to Coach Saban: Now that I’ve had about a week to digest the news of Nick Saban’s retirement, I thought I’d put down a few words about the man who is in my book unmistakably the true GOAT.
Why is Saban the greatest? The numbers speak for themselves - seven national titles in the modern era. Plus, he was in the title mix just about every year.
At Alabama, he was 127-19 versus the toughest conference in college football. He left with a winning streak against every SEC opponent. Four teams never beat Bama with Saban at the helm. Only Auburn and LSU topped the Tide more than twice in 17 seasons.
The man never had a losing season. He won ten games or more every season since his first at Alabama. If he went 12-2, it was a disappointment.
He basically never lost to the teams he was supposed to beat over a stretch in Tuscaloosa that went about a decade longer than most projected. After the upset loss to Louisiana Monroe in year one in T-Town, Alabama went on a streak of 100 games without a loss to unranked opponents.
His team was almost never an underdog. From 2010-2021, Alabama was the favorite in 164 of 165 games.
One of my favorite stories came at SEC Media Days. By the way, Saban was always the star there (one of the few who avoided “coach speak”). He was talking about expectations. He spoke of meeting a lady after the past season who told him ‘maybe you can win next year.’ This was after his team had finished 14-1 falling in the national championship game.
The expectations were near impossible. Still, from 2007-2023, no four-year player ever walked away without a national championship ring.
Saban set his own bar extremely high. He was continually adapting to the game and its ever-changing landscape.
He was the best recruiter. He was as good as any coach at development. Look at the resume of NFL players.
Saban said as long as he could impact young men in a positive way, he’d stick around. He also said of his retirement that at his age he felt he couldn’t give all that it takes to maintain that Saban standard.
I feel privileged to have witnessed his greatness and fortunate enough to have attended his final game. His rants and classic analogies like ‘rat poison’ will be missed.
I’ve always said, enjoy it while you can - it won’t last forever. I hate it that it won’t last at least a little bit longer. Thanks coach. You made the game better for all of us fans - not just the Bama faithful but the entire college football universe.