TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — While 65 may be retirement age for most of the working community, Alabama coach Nick Saban has showed no signs of slowing down.
Over the last 40 years, those who follow football have witnessed Saban grow from a graduate assistant at his alma mater to the greatest coach in college football history.
There is still a portion of the sport who believe Paul “Bear” Bryant is the best coach ever. That’s fine. But if Saban wins the title this year, he will tie Bryant with six championships.
Saban got his start in 1978 as a graduate assistant at Kent State under legendary coach Don James.
He’s often told this story, but the only reason Saban stuck around to coach was because he wanted to wait on his wife, Terry, to finish school.
Saban spent time bouncing around as a position coach (mostly defensive backs) from 1975-82 before his first big break came.
Saban took over as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State in 1983, his first of two coaching stints with the Spartans.
After four years in East Lansing, Saban made the jump to the NFL in 1988 as the defensive backs coach for the Houston Oilers under Jerry Glanville, another one of Saban’s coaching influences.
That didn’t last long as Saban’s first head coaching job came shortly after. Toledo named Saban the head coach of its program in 1990.
Saban led Toledo to a 9-2 record and co-champions in the Mid American Conference in his lone season.
The NFL itch would creep up again as Saban left Toledo to become the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick, arguably Saban’s biggest football influence outside of his father and Don James.
Including Saban, Belichick assembled an otherworldly staff. They didn’t go on to win a Super Bowl, but that staff produced many successful coaches and NFL executives working in the league today.
Saban found himself back in the college ranks as the head coach at Michigan State in 1995. He never led the Spartans to a national championship, but he did help put down the foundation for what the program has become today.
Saban’s first title came in 2003 while at LSU. After taking the job in 2000, Saban worked to build the Tigers into the national power they are today.
Still, the NFL came calling again and Saban answered, taking the Miami Dolphins job.
Saban’s coaching style never fit the new salary cap NFL. Players made just as much, and in some cases more, than the head coaches. Saban couldn’t rule with an iron fist like he does in college.
Saban took the Alabama job in 2007, and slowing began implementing his trademarked “Process.”
The results came quick. Alabama went undefeated during the 2008 regular season before winning it all in 2009. The Crimson Tide won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
After two years of not winning the championship, people questioned whether or not the game had passed by Saban.
He responded to the critics in the best possible way, winning the College Football Playoff in dramatic fashion last season.
Now, Saban has Alabama back in the driver’s seat to win another title. The dynasty lives on.