Alabama Football: The ‘Stick-With-It-Ness’ of Nick Saban

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

While another SEC coaching search progresses Alabama football fans can rejoice in the ‘stick-with-it-ness’ of the now legendary Nick Saban.

Even before Nick Saban was formally introduced as the new Alabama football coach 13 years ago, accusations began. From the fanbases of opposing schools, backed by a national media chorus, came the claim – ‘he’ll leave Tuscaloosa after three or four seasons’ or at the ‘next NFL opportunity.’

Nick and Terry Saban proved them wrong. In a couple of months, Saban will rush into his 14th Alabama football spring practice. He will do it with as much passion and determination as he did in 2007.

Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa offered an eye-opening perspective.

Instead of a long list of the opposing coaches, Nick Saban has processed, let’s compare Nick to his 13, SEC counterparts. As we write the actual number is 12 as Mississippi State works to replace the fired Joe Moorhead.

In 18, SEC seasons, Nick Saban has 205 wins. Combined Dan Mullen and Mark Stoops have been head coaches for 18, SEC seasons. Combined they have 134 wins.

SEC Football Head Coaches, Seasons and Win Percentage (seasons as SEC head coaches only)

  • Nick Saban – LSU (5), Alabama (13) with 205 wins; LSU, 75 percent wins; Alabama 87 percent wins
  • Dan Mullen – Mississippi State (9), Florida (2) with 90 wins; 64 percent wins
  • Gus Malzahn – Auburn (7) with 62 wins; 67 percent wins
  • Will Muschamp – Florida (4), South Carolina (4) with 54 wins; 54 percent wins
  • Ed Orgeron – Ole Miss (3), LSU (4) with 45 wins; 65 percent wins
  • Kirby Smart – Georgia (4) with 44 wins; 79 percent wins
  • Mark Stoops – Kentucky (7) with 44 wins; 50 percent wins
  • Derek Mason – Vanderbilt (6) with 27 wins; 37 percent wins
  • Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M (2) with 17 wins; 65 percent wins
  • Jeremy Pruitt – Tennessee (2) with 13 sins; 52 percent wins
  • Lane Kiffin – Tennessee (1), Ole Miss (0) with seven wins; 54 percent wins
  • Sam Pittman – Arkansas (0)
  • Eli Drinkwitz – Missouri (0)
  • TBD – Mississippi State (0)

Only two of the current SEC head coaches have ever beaten Nick Saban. Gus Malzahn has a 3-4 record. Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss and LSU is 1-4 against Saban. Dan Mullen has the ignominious distinction of the most failure against Nick Saban, going 0-9 at Mississippi State.

Most important to Alabama football fans is Nick Saban shows no signs of slowing down. He appears to have at least another five seasons in him – perhaps more. Next fall (barring unforeseen misfortune), in his 14th Alabama football season, his win total will rise to No. 6 all-time among major school head coaches. Currently at 248 total wins, Nick will pass Lou Holtz (249), Tom Osborne (255) and Lavell Edwards (257). Amos Alonzo Stagg (282) and Pop Warner (311) are possibly within reach before Nick calls it quits.

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In an era when head coaches are sometimes given but two seasons to prove themselves, Nick Saban is close to an anachronism. Then again, it has never taken Nick Saban two seasons to prove himself anywhere.