Snapshot: Five Years Ago

Alabama Gaga Over Overrated Saban” is completely hilarious in retrospect.

Some bits:

The citizens of Alabama never have been rational when it comes to college football, but the state has gone absolutely Lindsey Lohan over the arrival of Saban from his forgettable stint with the Miami Dolphins. How else to explain an overflow crowd of more than 92,000 showing up for the Crimson Tide’s spring game this year? Even by Alabama standards, that’s nuts.

The Crimson Tide went 6-7 last season and has not won a national championship in 15 years. Yet a number of Alabama fans truly expect Saban to have a 10-victory team this season and be in the BCS title game within three years. And those are the rational fans.

There is no need for Tide fans to roll out the red carpet for Saban, because in their mind, he walks several feet off the ground anyway. Upon his initial arrival in Tuscaloosa, one exuberant woman at the airport grabbed Saban around the neck and kissed his cheek. Children are being told stories about the wonderful Saint Nick that have nothing to do with Christmas.


The question is, why are Alabama fans so enamored with Saban? He is certainly a very good coach, with a national championship ring to prove it. Tuberville can’t say the same (although he did lead Auburn to a perfect 13-0 record in 2004).

But Saban’s arrival is being treated in these parts like the second-coming of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Or at least Gene Stallings. You would think from the reaction that Alabama had landed one of the two or three best college coaches in the nation, a perception that simply is not backed up by the numbers.


The fact is, Saban has won more than nine games in a season only twice. His record during his first four seasons at Michigan State was 25-22-1. He went 8-5 during his third season at LSU. It is hard to imagine Alabama fans who are thinking national championship by year No. 3 being happy with 8-5.


Yes, Saban has won a national championship, but a number of coaches have a single title to their credit. Winning multiple championships is a rarity, especially these days. Despite his years of national success while at Florida, Spurrier managed only one title. Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley and John Robinson are among the coaching greats who were one-and-done when it came to national championships. The legendary Bo Schembechler never won a title, and Frank Beamer is still without one.

Since the beginning of the BCS in 1998, the only coaches to pick up a second championship are Bobby Bowden (who won his first in 1993) and Carroll (who shared the title with Saban’s LSU team in 2003 and then won it outright in 2004).

What this means is if Saban ends up with multiple championship rings, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. And to this point, there is nothing in his record to indicate that he will reach such lofty heights.

Not to be a dick, but it does seem worthwhile to point out that while Saban’s Tide did start a little slow in his first season (2007, when they went a disappointing 7-6), by 2008 he was on fire (12-2, and the team’s first number one regular season ranking since 1980).

In 2009 — the “year No. 3” referenced by the author above — he delivered. 2010 was a bit of an off year (10-3, ending with a smackdown of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl), but he returned to form in last year with another title.

So there’s that.

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