If you didn’t think Nick Saban was the best college football coach of all time going into this season’s national championship game against Georgia, think again.
Alabama stormed back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to beat the Bulldogs 26-23 in overtime and secure the program’s fifth national championship in the past nine seasons – the shortest span to win five titles for any program in college football’s modern era.
The win was a big one for Saban’s legacy. It marked his sixth national championship, which ties Alabama legend Bear Bryant for the most since the poll era began in 1936.
During a Tuesday morning news conference, Saban said he really hadn’t taken time to reflect on what he had accomplished. Instead, he’s been more focused on next season’s team and who will or won’t be declaring for the 2018 NFL draft.
“Really haven’t thought too much about (my accomplishments),” Saban said. “But I think I’m going to. I really do. I think I’m going to. I don’t watch TV much. I don’t watch ESPN. Maybe if I do, maybe I’ll think about it some. It’s really been a bit of a whirlwind since the game.”
With this season’s title coming against former long-time assistant Kirby Smart, Saban now is 12-0 against his ex-assistants, with Monday night’s victory the only one that didn’t come by at least 17 points. Saban also opened the season with a win over one of his former assistants at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium; that win came against a Jimbo Fisher-led Florida State team.
Saban now has more titles than all other active FBS coaches combined (five). So, all debate over the greatest college football coach of all time should cease because we just saw the G.O.A.T. do some of his best work.
Saban isn’t ready to go there.
“This is not something that is just about me,” he said. “And I think Coach Bryant is probably the best coach of all time because of the longevity of his tenure as a coach and the way he changed. I mean, he won championships running the wishbone. He won them with Joe Namath dropping back throwing when people never, ever did it. I just think that, for his time, he impacted the game and had more success than anybody ever could.”
The victory over Georgia gives Saban 77 career wins against Associated Press Top 25 teams, which ranks third all-time. Only Joe Paterno (86) and Bobby Bowden (82) have more. Bryant is fourth at 66. But Saban’s winning percentage against AP-ranked teams (66.3) tops Bryant’s (59.2), Bowden’s (55.7) and Paterno’s (51.2).
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