Coaching against Nick Saban in SEC not a sound career move

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

Fans of other schools hate it, but coaching against Nick Saban has not been a good career decision for many SEC coaches.

In Saban’s 15-season, Alabama Crimson Tide career, he has coached against 45 SEC coaches. Among those who tried to take on Saban and the Tide in the SEC West, there has been only occasional success.

Returning my attention to these circumstances, was a tweet from Josh Pate.

With my interest engaged, I decided to look at all the SEC coaches, Nick Saban has faced over the 15 seasons. Saban has coached against 45 SEC head coaches, including four coaches who have worked for two different SEC programs. During the 2007-2021 period, there were only three SEC head coaches, Nick Saban did not compete against in a game. Former Kentucky coach, Joker Phillips is one and the other two, Clark Lea and Shane Beamer only joined the conference in the 2021 season.

A quick review of the 45 shows that 23 of them are no longer head coaches. One of the 23 is, though on the fringe; Kevin Sumlin who is coaching in the new USFL.

It is a running joke that Nick Saban destroys the careers of opposing coaches. In more than a few cases, the claim is pretty accurate and not the least bit funny for the guys it has happened to.

A few retired. Eleven of the 45 are still head coaches, though not all are still leading SEC teams.

What the 45 accomplished against Nick Saban

Thirteen of them have combined to beat Nick Saban in a total of 18 games. Gus Malzahn and Les Miles each gained three wins over Saban. Hugh Freeze won twice, in back-to-back seasons. The other 10, having beaten Saban once each, are Gene Chizik, Tommy Tuberville, Urban Meyer, Kirby Smart, Mark Richt, Ed Orgeron, Sylvester Croom Steve Spurrier, Jimbo Fisher and Kevin Sumlin.

Put the group of 13 together and Saban beat them 44 times. It is amazing, despite those losses, how much mileage many of those coaches milked from beating Saban. Gus Malzahn basically built his career, going 3-5 against Saban.

The opposite of such ‘success’ is Dan Mullin, whose record against Saban at Mississippi State and Florida was 0-10.

It can be argued over when Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide became the standard every coach and every program is measured against. Some say it goes back to the Tide knocking off Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship game. Others point to the 2011 National Championship. Whenever it started, it has not abated since.

The test is so hard and so many fail, why does any coach join an SEC West team? The answer is big egos and even bigger money.

CFB needs Saban to fix the NIL and Portal mess but .... dark. Next

If Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart think they have gotten over the Saban hump; they better think again.