What does Saban have left to prove?
The 2018 college football season is right around the corner and Alabama is rolling into the season as the anticipated favorite to win the national championship while stocking up for the future with the current number one recruiting class in the 2019 rankings. Nick Saban also just saw 12 of his players selected in this year’s draft.
Everything is clicking so I asked myself, “what does Saban have left to prove?”
Nothing and everything. Allow me to explain.
Let’s go back to 2012. That’s the year Nick Saban stopped competing with current coaches and began chasing the ghosts of coaches past. Saban had just won his third national championship in his sixth year at Alabama, back-to-back titles no less, and his fourth overall. No other current coach had that much hardware or had been as dominant in doing so. The chase to tie Bear Bryant’s record of six championships was well within reach and Saban and Alabama couldn’t be stopped on the recruiting trail.
2013 and 2014 ended in heartbreaking fashion as Alabama lost on the last play of regulation to Auburn in 2013, and the Tide were eliminated by eventual national champion Ohio State in the first College Football Playoff in 2014. Recruits turned into NFL draft picks and assistant coaches left for head coaching jobs.
2015 rolls around and Alabama gets back on track winning their fourth title under Saban.
2016 provided some firsts for Saban. It was the first time a freshman quarterback had lead the team throughout the season and it was also the first time that Saban had lost a national championship game as the Tide fell to Clemson in the rematch from 2015. For the first time in his career, Saban looked mortal.
Sadly, for the rest of the college football world, that didn’t last long. Alabama made light work with most of its 2017 foes before losing to Auburn in the season finale. However, the Tide had impressed the College Football Playoff Committee enough to receive their fourth bid in four years. Another milestone for Saban as his team is the only team to reach the playoffs in each of the four years.
The Tide made Clemson look pedestrian in their third meeting in as many years before setting up an all-SEC matchup in the national championship game. The Tide battled back from a halftime deficit, with a backup freshman quarterback, to rally for an overtime win as Saban tied Bear Bryant as they only two head coaches with six titles to their name.
National titles, recruiting titles, NFL Draft records, wins, and the respect of an entire league. Does Saban really have anything else to prove?
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