Alabama Football: Nick Saban’s Dartboard, Part 2


As discussed in Part 1 of Nick Saban’s Dartboard, the Alabama coach cut quite a swath through the SEC coaches in his second season at the Capstone. He also knocked a few other programs to their knees.

The first half of this detailed the manhandling of Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee in the 2008 season.

Picking up where the last one ended, here are the three other clubs and/or coaches Nick Saban had his way with that year.

Sly Croom, Mississippi State:

Though it’s hard to take any real joy in seeing Sylvester Croom (a Tuscaloosa native and former Tide standout in the 1970s) get let go at Mississippi State, it did provide some consolation to losing to the Bulldogs two seasons in a row.

The Tide righted the wrongs in 2008 with a 32-7 win over State, a season in which they went just 4-8 and had only one conference win. Croom had led his team to an 8-5 record the year before.

Whether Croom’s departure is as directly attributable to Nick Saban’s dominance as the other coaches in this list is debatable, but it sure didn’t help his cause any.

Tommy Tuberville, Auburn:

As if seeing Phil Fulmer fired mid-season shortly after losing big to Alabama wasn’t sweet enough for Tide fans, archrival and AU weasel Tommy Tuberville suffered the same fate.

He rolled into Tuscaloosa in November 2008 cocky as ever, holding up seven fingers (signifying is potential win streak over the Crimson Tide) as he marched into Bryant-Denny.

The season had already been bad enough for him: He had just five wins and had to fire his first-year offensive coordinator after only a few games due to a failed experiment to convert to a spread offense.

Alabama unleashed six years of pent-up frustration on the Tigers in the ’08 Iron Bowl, though, making Tuberville’s prospects of returning the next season even worse. The 36-0 clubbing was essentially the boot to Tubs’ AU days’ rear, and he was fired just a few days after.

Urban Meyer, Florida:

Urban Meyer? Florida? 2008? You may say, skeptically.

Yes, the Gators did beat Alabama by double digits that season in the SEC Championship Game. The premise I’m getting at here is more indirect, but still just as causal.

After the ’08 SEC Championship, Saban was more focused and more driven than ever to return to Atlanta and beat the Gators the next year, if the two teams played again. When they did, Saban and Co. demolished the Gators so badly that Urban Meyer admitted himself to the hospital later in the evening complaining of chest pains.

He then announced that due to his health issues, he was going to resign after Florida’s bowl game. The resignation turned into a long leave of absence and he came back for one more season, in which he went just 7-5, Meyer’s worst performance by far.

Following the 2010 season, he finally did kill the switch and officially resigned from Florida once and for all.

He will return to the gridiron in 2012, but in a conference and a city far, far from Tuscaloosa and Nick Saban.

Other notes:

Arkansas: Though we’ll never know how Bobby Petrino’s career would have turned out had he stayed, he never did beat Saban as the Hogs coach. In fact, in three out of the four games, the Tide won by at least 20 points: 49-14 in 2008, 35-7 in 2009 and 38-14 in 2011. In 2010, Arkansas held the lead most of the game, but Alabama put them away late in the fourth on an interception and subsequent Mark Ingram touchdown.

LSU: Will the 2011 National Championship game have a lasting effect on LSU? I guess we’ll find out in the upcoming season.

Not quite as good as their predecessors: One of the more eye-popping issues to me with the coaches Saban’s forced out are the replacements schools hired afterward. Urban Meyer had two national championships at Florida and was replaced with an unproven first-time coach Will Muschamp. Phil Fulmer won the first-ever BCS National Championship game and was replaced with arguably the current worst coach in the SEC in Derek Dooley. Tommy Tuberville put together great defenses and great teams at Auburn. They replaced him with Gene Chizik, who had a 5-19 record at Iowa State and has only beaten Alabama once in his three years at AU.

Is history destined to repeat itself?

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