Alabama Football: Why Nick Saban is no longer most hated

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

For more than a decade, Alabama Football Head Coach, Nick Saban was the most hated man in college football. Though the football world never had much of a ‘warm and fuzzy’ response to Saban, the intense hatred began with LSU fans when Nick left the Dolphins to become the Alabama Crimson Tide head coach.

Wright Thompson described the LSU hate perfectly,

"LSU fans hate Saban more than store-bought jambalaya, more than FEMA, more than Yankees who confuse Creole with Cajun. The man loved ’em and left ’em. This is personal. This is cultural. This hatred is…intergalactic."

Media coverage of Saban’s comments about staying in Miami and later deciding to make the move to Tuscaloosa fueled a more general, nationalized hate. Rightly or wrongly – mostly wrongly – Nick Saban was an easy target for demonization.

After his south Florida exit, it took a couple of seasons for animosity for Nick Saban to grow more. It was fueled by the success of a rejuvenated Alabama Crimson Tide program. From 2009 onward, every championship added to the fuel reservoir. As the stature of Nick Saban and Alabama Football grew, the disdain became to be more driven by jealousy. Every opponent, not just LSU and Auburn had a reason to hate Saban.

Nick Saban was undeterred by the negative assessments. He either cared little about the negative opinions of others, or he shut them out as external distractions not worth his attention.

After the Crimson Tide loss to Clemson in 2017, the Washington Post shared responses from the anti-Saban crowd.

"America needed this. America needed Nick Saban to suffer tonight.Nothing better than watching Alabama lose. The look on short Nick Saban’s face was priceless.Nothing makes me happier than waking up to the news that Nick Saban lost."

Hate for Alabama Football and Nick Saban

The hate Saban and Alabama Football storyline made good copy for national media. The theme resonated with so many sports fans, it was too good to not embellish. Sports Illustrated went so far as to list Saban as one of the most hated figures in all of the sports world.

After many years, the Saban-hate stories grew tiresome from repetition. A Google search reveals a paucity of them over the last year. What has replaced some of the hate is begrudging respect for the man most college football experts recognize as the greatest to ever coach the game.

Nick Saban has changed too. He has mellowed to an extent. At least, he has become more willing to show a softer side to his personality. The image of Nick, tears flowing during the Tide’s most recent National Championship celebration, elicited empathy rather than derision.

Next. Time to give Nick a lifetime contract. dark

Terry Saban does not get enough credit for her contribution to the success of Alabama Football. To the extent Nick has mellowed, Terry Saban probably deserves credit for that as well.