Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are two of the greatest football coaches at their respective levels. Saban is fresh off winning his fifth national title in nine years at Alabama and his sixth national championship overall.
Belichick, who has won five Super Bowls as the New England Patriots’ coach, will face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday with another AFC title at stake.
The men happen to be close friends, too. Saban worked as Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94. For years, the two have remained close. They even faced off against each other in the AFC East when Saban coached the Miami Dolphins during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
As part of an in-depth piece by The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, the friendship between Saban and Belichick is examined in a fascinating way. The entire piece is worth a read, especially for Alabama fans who want to learn more about Saban’s coaching journey. But near the end of the story, Belichick gives major praise to Saban by saying he wouldn’t want to coach against him again.
Saban’s latest win sparked the perennial speculation about whether now is the time when he might take another run at the NFL. Belichick, who watched the end of Alabama’s win during the Patriots’ first-round playoff bye, has been the subject of own round of speculation, after ESPN reported that some members of the organization think this could be the last season together for Belichick, Brady and Kraft.
They’re both in their mid-60s, and it seems unlikely their coaching paths will ever intersect on opposing sidelines again. Perhaps the greatest indication of how Belichick feels about Saban is that he wouldn’t want them to.
“I mean, I wouldn’t want to face him,” Belichick says. “Obviously, if the circumstances fell that way, then we would compete against each other like we did in ’05 and ’06. But I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I would look forward to that. It would be tough; it would be very challenging.”
Likely, it would be tough and challenging for Saban to coach against his friend as well. Still, it’s unlikely that another Saban-Belichick matchup will happen.
Saban, 66, seems like he will finish his coaching career in Tuscaloosa despite numerous NFL rumors in recent years. And it’s hard to envision Belichick, 65, moving to college football soon.
Still, it’s fun to watch both coach’s success from afar and consider how they have influenced each other. It’s clear mutual respect is there.