TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Even though they don’t know each other very well, Nick Saban and Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson both have something pretty phenomenal in common.
They both won championships this past season after turning to a reserve quarterback.
For Alabama, it was then-freshman Tua Tagovailoa giving the Crimson Tide a spark, as they came back from a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat Georgia 26-13 in overtime in the National Championship Game.
Pederson, in just his second year guiding the Eagles, had to turn to Nick Foles after Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in Week 14, and went on to defeated the New Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
It’s something that’ll come up this weekend when Pederson will be a featured speaker during the University of Alabama’s annual Clinic of Champions, which regularly attracts scores of high school coaches from all around.
This year’s lineup also includes Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Dr. Kevin Elko, Temple head coach Geoff Collins (who was Alabama’s director of player personanel in 2007), Troy head coach Neal Brown and former Florida and Illinois head coach and Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Ron Zook.
“We have some great speakers coming in here for this clinic,” Saban said. “We try to have the best clinic in the world and in the country, any place around. That’s one of the ways that we have thank and pay back high school coaches for what they do to promote our game, to inspire players to play our game, to develop players.
“There are some people out there because of high school coaches, high school coaching programs that are teaching what they do that we’ve been able to recruit here and play pretty well with. This is the one opportunity we have to show our appreciation for that.”
Although Saban used to bring in a lot of speakers he had ties to, he’s been mixing it up more of late.
For example, last year’s clinic featured Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn (a Saban assistant with the Miami Dolphins), Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, United States Naval Academy coach Ken Niumatalolo, Duke coach David Cutcliffe and Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano.
The marquee speakers in 2016 were Tony Dungy, Steve Spurrier, Frank Beamer Bill Polian and Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who coached the Crimson Tide’s line for two seasons (2011-12).
Until pretty recently Pederson was arguably best known for being Brett Favre’s backup with the Packers, but also played for the Dolphins, Eagles and Browns, and was selected by the Panthers in the 1995 expansion draft.
After retiring as a player, Pederson was named the head coach at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport in 2005, where he went 33-7 over four years (and visited Alabama with his coaching staff when Mike Shula was still the head coach).
He began his pro coaching career as an offensive quality control coach with Philadelphia in 2009 and followed Andy Reid to be his offensive coordinator in Kansas City. From 2013-15 the Chiefs went 31-17, and he subsequently took over the Eagles.
“The Eagles were pretty unstoppable on offense, it looked to me the couple times I’ve gotten to see them play,” Saban said.
The clinic open Thursday and concludes after Saturday’s scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium.