TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — There’s only one coach in the Southeastern Conference who knows what it’s like to beat Nick Saban.
It’s Gus Malzahn, of course, and he’s done it twice. Overall, the 13 other league head coaches have lost to him 21 times, including some at previous jobs.
Topping that list, of course, is Dan Mullen, who faced Alabama with Saban nine times while at Mississippi State (2009-17), and lost all nine. One came when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1.
However, his teams did well enough against everyone else to warrant Florida bringing him back to where he had been Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator from 2005-08. But Mullen’s been the exception as the SEC coaching landscape has changed dramatically since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007.
The other coaches in the league that year were Rich Brooks, Sylvester Croom, Phillip Fulmer, Houston Nutt, Bobby Johnson, Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Ed Orgeron, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and Tommy Tuberville.
The two schools that had yet to join the conference were coached by Dennis Franchione and Gary Pinkel.
Orgeron was at Ole Miss, and is now getting a second chance at coaching in the SEC at LSU. Yet many of those names are now out of football. There’s been so much turnover that Will Muschamp, who was at Florida from 2011-14 and South Carolina since just 2016, is already one of the league’s longest tenured coaches.
Overall, since 2008, which doesn’t include Saban’s first season with the Crimson Tide when they also had to deal with the textbook disbursement scandal, Alabama has lost just nine times to an SEC opponent, compared to 79 wins including the two faced with the national championship on the line.
Saban at Alabama, 2007-2017 (*vacated)
- Arkansas 10-0*
- Ole Miss 8-2*
- Mississippi State 10-1
- Auburn 7-4
- LSU 9-3
- Texas A&M 5-1
- Tennessee 11-0
- Kentucky 4-0
- Vanderbilt 2-0*
- Florida 6-1
- Georgia 4-1
- South Carolina 1-1
- Missouri 2-0
Tennessee’s last win against Alabama was 2006, which explains why now-athletics director Fulmer tabbed Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be the Volunteers’ new coach.
Arkansas’ last win against the Crimson Tide was 2006 as well.
Les Miles had a couple of wins but then lost five straight. Kevin Sumlin won once in 2012 and then also lost five straight in the series. Hugh Freeze enjoyed back-to-back wins, but lost in 2016 and then ran into some other difficulties.
Overall, Alabama has an ongoing winning streak against every SEC opponent except for South Carolina, which it hasn’t played since 2010, and Auburn. One has to think that the Crimson Tide will have a little extra motivation for the rematch in November, with the game this year to be played at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Regardless, while attrition is pretty normal in the coaching profession, Saban’s been at Alabama almost twice as long as any other coach in the league, which considering he’s entering his 12th season is nothing short of stunning. Factor in that between 1996-2010 that four other SEC schools combined to win seven national titles, and it’s absolutely staggering.