The Times West Virginian

January 9, 2013

Saban earns title of nation’s most successful coach in college football


Times West Virginian

— It was sometime back in the 1967 football season, likely at a game at East-West Stadium here in Fairmont where Monongah High School played most of its football games, when Nick Saban’s coach Earl Keener said that “having Nicky out there is just like having a coach on the field.”

No one thought a whole lot about that at the time. But as the years began to pile up, and Nick “Brother” Saban evolved into a highly successful football leader, people would turn back to Keener’s statement as a prophecy which had come true.

Without a doubt, based on his record and all the things he has accomplished, Nick Saban is the most successful college football coach in the country. It’s a title he has richly earned.

Nick Saban, from Idamay, W.Va. — the No. 1 college football coach in the country! And he has certainly worked his way up to that title.

For a review, Saban received a football scholarship to Kent State, and he joined the staff after graduation because of the determination he had shown as a graduate assistant.

Six assistant coaching jobs followed his stint at Kent State, including a stopover at West Virginia University, where he was on the staff of Frank Cignetti.

He was also an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers before accepting his first head coaching job at the University of Toledo. Then he returned to the NFL with the Cleveland Browns before becoming the head coach at Michigan State and then LSU.

From there he joined the Miami Dolphins as the head man, but his record there was a sub-par 15-17. At that time he said, among much speculation, that he would not be leaving the Dolphins for the Alabama job — where the late Bear Bryant had won five national titles, the last one in 1979.

But Saban did leave the Dolphins a couple weeks later for the Alabama job and is already looking ahead to another national title to go with the three he has at the school — four overall, including one at LSU.

The Crimson Tide have rushed for at least 150 yards in a game on 50 different occasions since the start of the 2008 season. And they’ve won every one of those contests, after rushing for 265 yards on the way to a 42-14 win over Notre Dame on Monday nigh in the national championship contest. It appears that if a team can’t stop Alabama’s rushing game, it has no chance.

Saban has proven to be tough to beat in big games. He’s now 8-1 in championship games — 4-1 in Southeastern Conference title matches during his stints at Alabama and LSU, and 4-0 in games that decided the Bowl Championship Series national title.

“I think it’s pretty special what we’ve accomplished, what the players accomplished, what the coaches accomplished. I think it’s really special,” Saban said.

“And one of these days, when I’m sitting on the side of a hill watching the stream go by, I’ll probably figure it out even more,” he told a writer for The Associated Press.

Marion Countians have every reason to be very proud of Nick Saban.