Is Nick Saban one of the greatest coaches ever?

Nick-Saban-TrophyNick Saban just recently won his fourth national championship as a head coach, and the third in four years at Alabama. Which has led me to wonder if Nick Saban will start needing to be named as one of the greatest of all time? I’m not quite ready to call him one of the greatest college coaches but he is slowly making his case with each passing season.

It is funny to think Nick Saban had no dreams or intentions of joining the coaching ranks coming out of College at Kent State. His Coach at Kent State Don James convinced Saban to become a graduate assistant while he waited for his wife to finish her degree.  Saban spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Kent State and got promoted to a defensive assistant in 1975. This was just the beginning of Saban’s coaching career.

Nick Saban spent the better part of the next decade bouncing around jobs between Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, and Michigan State in the college ranks as well as one stop in the NFL to be an assistant coach on the Houston Oilers. In 1990 Saban got his first opportunity to be a head coach when he accepted the Toledo Rockets job. In his first and only season as head coach he took the Rockets to a 9-2 record and the Rockets were co-champions of the Mid American Conference. Following the season Saban accepted the Defensive Coordinator job with the Cleveland Browns.

This one move has now labeled Saban under the Bill Belichick coaching tree; He stayed with the Browns from 1991-1994 and got another opportunity as a head coach when he took over the struggling Michigan State Spartans in 1995. Beginning with his first season in East Lansing, there was moderate improvement and mild success. It wasn’t until the 1999 season when he led the Spartans to a 9-2 record, which was the best season for the Spartans since 1965. Saban now had some interest from various jobs opening up, and he decided to head down to Baton Rouge to take the LSU head coaching job.

From the time he took over in 1999 it just seemed like it would be a matter of time before he helped get LSU over the top. That first flash of brilliance happened in 2001 when LSU won it’s first outright SEC championship since 1986. While the team took a slight step backwards in 2002, there was something special from the early going of 2003 as LSU went through the season with only one loss and won their 2nd SEC championship in three years and finishing the season at #2 in the BCS and getting a bid to play #1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers took advantage of playing close to home winning their first national championship since 1958, and capturing Saban’s first title as a head coach.

2004 was a step backwards for the Tigers and after suffering a heartbreaking loss in the Capital One bowl, Nick Saban resigned to take a shot at the NFL and the Miami Dolphins head coaching job. This would be Saban’s third stint in the NFL, but his first opportunity as a head coach. It was short lived, after his first season and some surprising succsess, the team took a huge step backwards in his second season and Saban suffered his first losing season as a head coach. At this time the rumors started swirling around Saban and the newly vacant coaching position at Alabama.Saban

Even though Saban denied the reports repeatedly, he finally met with owner of the Dolphins on January 3rd 2007 and notified the owner of his intentions to take the Alabama job. He was announced on January 4th as the 27th head coach of the Alabama Crimson tide. His first season in Birmingham was a rocky one finishing the season at 6-6.  His second season is when things turned for the best, Saban helped the Crimson tide reach #1 in the polls during the regular season for the first time since 1980, and Nick Saban finally got his first undefeated season as a head coach, but the first loss would come to eventual national champion Florida Gators in the SEC championship game.  Then Saban’s Crimson tide suffered an embarrassing loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. But all of that didn’t stop the excitement for the next season as expectations were high.

2009 is when things really started to take off for Saban at Alabama, he had his second consecutive undefeated system and Alabama’s first back to back undefeated regular seasons since 1973-1974. The Crimson tide beat Florida in an SEC title game rematch against Florida, which now put Saban in rare company with Paul “Bear” Bryant as one of only two coaches to win an SEC championship at two schools. Saban and the Crimson tide carried that momentum into the National Championship game against the Texas Longhorns where Saban was able to capture his 2nd National championship as a head coach.

Saban now had the distinction as being the only coach who won National Championships at two different schools.  Don’t forget the fact he did it at Two SEC Schools. The 2010 season was another strong one for Saban and the Tide, but lost to eventual national champions Auburn in the Iron bowl. The past two seasons Saban was able to get his 3rd and 4th National championship, which now puts him in more rare company as the first coach since Tom Osborne to win three or more national titles and he is the first to do it in the BCS era.

Say what you want about Nick Saban, but he has proven to turn programs into winners. He didn’t win great everywhere, but since he took over Alabama, he has won three championships and will probably have a team that is favored in 2013. Now the question I have, is Nick Saban one of the best coaches of all time? Or is he just the best of recent history? I am figuring he has to be close to being one of the best of all time, but that is my opinion, and I guess you could say “proof is in the pudding”.

Longhorns Basktball is saving Longhorn Nations Pride

While this past football season was dismal for the Longhorn faithful in Austin and around the country. Basketball season is causing some fans to have something to be happy about. The reason for this is because the Longhorns have knocked off two top 10, Big XII foes in back to back games. First was the huge victory over the Aggies, then on Saturday the Longhorns went into Phog Allen Field house and knocked off the number 2 ranked Jayhawks at home. It was the first time in 69 games that the Jayhawks have lost.

Yes, that is correct, the Longhorns went into Kansas and beat the Jayhawks at home. A house of horrors for the Longhorns was finally a happy place to be. It took 9 tries to finally win there, but this one is oh so sweet for the Longhorns basketball team. Texas is a state where basketball is only an after thought and everybody focuses on football for 12 months out of the year. But after this past football season, the basketball season and success of this team is a very welcome break. As long as this team can keep going and continue to win big games and stay relevant as the calender clicks closer to March, then there will be an exodus out of Austin to watch this team play.

Under Rick Barnes, the basketball program has gone to once thought, impossible heights. With the early success of this season there are a lot of fans in Texas who are thinking of a special post season run this season. While there is a whole lot of basketball to go, Barnes needs to make sure to keep this kids grounded if he wants to reap the success of this momentum being built right now. With two huge victories notched on the belt, at Michigan State and at Kansas, fans can finally start thinking of reaching for the stars. If the Longhorns can make it through the rest of conference play, and the conference tournament with no real hiccups, then this team is building a resume for a top 3 seed. So, Longhorn fans, keep your fingers crossed and get behind this team, it could be a special March, if things hold steady.

Kody’s Sports Korner Bowl Preview; Part 3

If you  have missed the first two bowl previews I did, check out part 1 here and part 2 here

TicketCity Bowl:
Northwestern vs Texas Tech –
Sadly this New Year will begin with this lackluster bowl. In the inaugural Ticket City Bowl in Dallas, there will be a first time meeting between the Northwestern Wildcats and Texas Tech Red Raiders. While Northwestern is looking for it’s first bowl win since 1949, Texas Tech has some concerns if it’s coach will be around for next year. But all of that aside, there are a lot questions on how will Northwestern handle the pass heavy attack of the Red Raiders. Sadly to say, Northwestern will not get it’s first bowl win here. They will be lucky to stay within 21 points of the Red Raiders.
Prediction: Texas Tech 52 – Northwestern 21

Outback Bowl:
Florida vs Penn St
When this match up was announced, you figured there would be retirement talks from one coach. But the coach who is going to step down isn’t the 84 year old Joe Paterno, but the 46 year old Urban Meyer. While this is a shock to most, it isn’t that big of a shock after last years flip flop. The big question about this game will be whether or not Penn State can contain a good Florida team. After their struggles with an Alabama squad earlier in the year, I don’t see this one being pretty for the Nittany Lions.
Prediction: Florida 35 – Penn State 14

Capital One Bowl:
Alabama vs Michigan St
While most everybody will be expecting Alabama to roll in this game, I expect to see Michigan St give Alabama a run for their money and pull off a upset. Michigan State has been an underrated team all year and is probably the best team coming out of the Big Ten this season. Expect an exciting game, one that should give the Big Ten it’s few bowl wins this season.
Prediction: Michigan State 28 – Alabama 21

Gator Bowl:
Mississippi St vs Michigan
This is a very ho hum match up, there are a lot of better game to watch and I am sure Michigan won’t show up so they can assure to get rid of Rich Rod. That being said, Dan Mullen will have Mississippi State ready to play. Expect this one to be a blow out.
Prediction: Mississippi State 35 – Michigan 17 Bowl:
Middle Tennessee vs Miami(OH)
For a match up of two teams that nobody cares about outside of their respective cities. This could be a good game to watch for college football enthusiasts. Miami is going to be playing with a lot of momentum from their surprise win at the MAC championship. Meanwhile Middle Tennessee is trying to get one more win and finish with a winning record. Should be a good game and expect it to be a close one.
Prediction: Miami (OH) 24 – Middle Tennessee 21

Cotton Bowl:
LSU vs Texas A&M
In one of the more exciting bowl match ups, this game should be a lot of fun to watch. But don’t expect to see any surprises here as LSU should be able to find a way to win this game and put another notch in the belt for the SEC. Only question will be if Les Miles will have some Tiger Stadium grass available at this game.
Prediction: LSU 35 – Texas A&M 28

Compass Bowl:
Pittsburgh vs Kentucky
While everyone has Pitt as their favorite and expects them to win this game, Kentucky has been able to hang tough when least expected to. This could be a spring board into next season for the Wildcats and look for a very exciting game between these two teams.
Prediction: Kentucky 28 – Pitt 21

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:
Nevada vs Boston College
Expect Nevada to play with a lot of pride and be able to move the ball at will on Boston College. This is not going to be a pretty game for the Eagles, but it could be a very close game throughout if Boston College can contain the Pistol.
Prediction: Nevada 42 – Boston College 21

That is the last of the bowl previews for the lesser bowl games. Check back soon for the BCS Preview.