Saban at an Alabama practice in 2009
|Annual salary||US$6.9 million|
October 31, 1951 |
Fairmont, West Virginia
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1973–1974||Kent State (GA)|
|1975–1976||Kent State (LB)|
|1978–1979||West Virginia (DB)|
|1980–1981||Ohio State (DB)|
|1983–1987||Michigan State (DC/DB)|
|1988–1989||Houston Oilers (DB)|
|1991–1994||Cleveland Browns (DC)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2× AP National Coach of the Year (2003, 2008)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2003)
2× Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (2003, 2008)
Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (2008)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2008)
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award (2008)
Sporting News Coach of the Year (2008)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award (2010)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2014)
3× SEC Coach of the Year (2003, 2008–2009)
Nicholas Lou Saban Jr. (//; born October 31, 1951) is an American football coach. He is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, a position he has held since the 2007 season. Saban previously served as head coach of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and three other universities: Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Toledo. His eight-year contract totaling US$32 million made him one of the highest paid football coaches, professional or collegiate, in the United States at the time. He appeared on the September 1, 2008, cover of Forbes magazine as "The Most Powerful Coach in Sports". Saban's career record as a college head coach is 191–60–1.[a]
Saban led the LSU Tigers to the BCS National Championship in 2003 and the Alabama Crimson Tide to BCS and AP national championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, and the College Football Playoff championship in 2015. He became the first coach in college football history to win a national championship with two different Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win an SEC championship at two different schools. In May 2013, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
- 1 Assistant football coach
- 2 Head football coach
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Coaching tree
- 5 Head coaching record
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Assistant football coach
Saban had not intended to enter coaching until Don James, his coach at Kent State, made him a graduate assistant while Saban waited for his wife to graduate. He later served as an assistant coach at Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy and Michigan State in NCAA Division I-A, and with the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns in the National Football League.
Head football coach
Saban was hired as head coach at the University of Toledo on December 22, 1989. Coming off of 6–5 seasons in both 1988 and 1989, the Rockets found quick success under Nick Saban, going 9–2. The two games the Rockets lost that season were by narrow margins: one point to Central Michigan, and four points to Navy. Saban turned down an application of Urban Meyer, who was looking for a job on his staff. With the 9–2 season, Toledo was co-champion of the Mid-American Conference. Saban resigned as Toledo's head coach the following February after one season to become defensive coordinator of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick.
When Saban arrived in East Lansing, Michigan prior to the 1995 season, MSU had not had a winning season since 1990, and the team was sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting violations committed under his predecessor and former mentor, George Perles.
- 1995–1997—Beginning in 1995, Saban moderately improved MSU's fortunes, taking the Spartans to minor bowl games (all of which they lost by double-digit margins) in each of his first three seasons. From 1995 to 1997, Michigan State finished 6–5–1, 6–6, and 7–5. In comparison, MSU had finished 5–6, 6–6 and 5–6 (prior to NCAA forfeits) in 1992–1994.
- 1998—On November 7, 1998, the Spartans upset the No. 1 ranked Ohio State 28–24 at Ohio Stadium. However, even after the upset and an early-season rout of then-highly ranked Notre Dame the Spartans finished 6–6, including three last-minute losses featuring turnovers, defensive lapses, and special-teams misplays, and failed to earn a bowl invitation.
- 1999—Saban led the Spartans to a 9–2 season that included wins over Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. However, the two losses were routs at the hands of Purdue and Wisconsin. Following the final regular-season game against Penn State, Saban abruptly resigned to accept the head coaching position with LSU. Saban's assistant head coach and successor, Bobby Williams, then coached MSU to a Citrus Bowl victory over Florida, giving the Spartans an overall record of 10–2 for the 1999 season. It would be the best season in terms of wins for the Spartans since 1965, and it would see the Spartans reach their highest ranking since the 1966 team. Future NFL head coach Josh McDaniels served as a graduate assistant on Saban's 1999 coaching staff.
- 2000—In 2000, the Tigers went 8–4 and won the Peach Bowl. The season was somewhat marred by several lopsided losses, including a 34–17 loss to the Auburn Tigers, a 13–10 loss to the UAB Blazers, and a 41–9 loss to the Florida Gators.
- 2001—Saban led LSU to a 10–3 record, including an SEC Championship and a Sugar Bowl victory. After a loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, the Tigers finished the year with six straight wins, including a win over No. 2 Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship Game, and a 47–34 win over Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl. It was the first outright SEC championship for LSU since 1986, and the first time the Tigers had won the Sugar Bowl since 1968.
- 2002—The season opened with high expectations, but a 26–8 loss at the hands of Virginia Tech raised serious questions about their outlook. However, the Tigers would rebound to win their next six straight, but after a mid-season injury to quarterback Matt Mauck, LSU lost four of its last six games to close the season, including a 21–20 loss at Arkansas, which knocked the Tigers out of the SEC Championship Game, and forced them to share the SEC West Division title with the Razorbacks. LSU also suffered a 35–20 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and finished 8–5.
- 2003—The Tigers started the season with five wins, including a 17–10 victory in Tiger Stadium over the defending SEC champion, and then undefeated, Georgia Bulldogs. LSU lost the following week to Florida, 19–7. After the loss to Florida, LSU did not lose again in the regular season and ended its regular season with a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks to win the SEC West. After winning the SEC West, the Tigers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. They were ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings and advanced to play the BCS No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl, which was the host of the BCS Championship Game in 2003. The Tigers won the game 21–14. The win gave LSU the BCS national championship and a 13–1 finish for the season.
- 2004—LSU finished the season 9–3, after losing to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Capital One Bowl 30–25 on a final play touchdown pass. Other losses that season were on the road at Auburn 10–9, and a loss on the road to Georgia 45–16. At the end of the 2004 season, Saban left LSU to coach the Miami Dolphins.
Saban accepted the job of head coach of the Miami Dolphins on December 25, 2004.
- 2005—The season and the Nick Saban era officially kicked off with a 34–10 win over the Denver Broncos. From there, however, the Dolphins struggled, losing seven of their next nine games to fall to 3–7. The two wins came over the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, a game that took place in Tiger Stadium due to Hurricane Katrina. After a frustrating two months, however, the Dolphins would rally late in the season, as they won their final six games, including a win to end the season in Foxboro, Massachusetts over the New England Patriots. The team finished the year 9–7, and narrowly missed the playoffs in Saban's first season.
- 2006—Going into the 2006 season, the Dolphins were expected to contend for a playoff spot. The season, however, turned out to be a major disappointment. The Dolphins were considering quarterback Drew Brees, who had just been released from the San Diego Chargers due to a career-threatening shoulder injury and subsequent contract dispute, but instead signed Daunte Culpepper, who was still recovering from a knee injury from the previous season. Culpepper never fully recovered and was ultimately benched after the fourth game of the season, when the Dolphins lost to the Houston Texans. He was eventually put on Injured Reserve. After starting the season 1–6, however, the Dolphins got hot. They won four straight games, including wins over the Chicago Bears, who were previously unbeaten, and made it to the Super Bowl that year, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Suddenly, the Dolphins were back in the playoff hunt at 5–6, but a 24–10 loss the following week to the Jacksonville Jaguars all but ended their playoff hopes. The Dolphins would rebound the following week with a 21–0 win over the New England Patriots. The win would be the last bright spot for the Dolphins in the 2006 season. Quarterback Joey Harrington was eventually benched in favor of third-string quarterback Cleo Lemon. While the defense was very good, the offense was anemic, with the only bright spot being running back Ronnie Brown, who gained over 1,000 rushing yards on the season. The Dolphins would lose their next two games to the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets to finish 6–10, Saban's first losing season as a head coach.
On November 27, 2006, the University of Alabama announced that head coach Mike Shula had been fired. Saban was rumored to be at the top of Alabama's wish list, but Saban refused to discuss the job while his NFL season was still underway. During the month of December 2006, Saban was repeatedly questioned by the media about the Alabama job, and he repeatedly denied the rumors in his weekly press conferences, stating on December 21 "I guess I have to say it. I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." Saban did eventually meet with Alabama officials on January 1, 2007, following the Dolphins' season ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
On January 3, 2007, following a meeting with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga, Saban announced that he had accepted an offer to become Alabama's 27th head coach. On January 4, 2007, at a press conference on the Alabama campus, Saban was officially introduced as the head football coach of The University of Alabama. On September 1, 2007, his Crimson Tide opened the season with a 52–6 win over the Western Carolina Catamounts, scoring more points than during any game in the 2006 season. Saban became the fifth Alabama coach since 1900 to start his first season 3–0, earning a win over then-ranked No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks. Alabama ended the regular season with a 6–6 record, including a four-game losing streak, a particularly humiliating loss at home to Louisiana-Monroe, and a sixth straight loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The Tide defeated Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl, 30–24, to end the year 7–6.[a]
During his second year as head coach of the Tide, Saban led his team from a sub-par season in 2007 to a perfect 12–0 regular season record. Saban finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in his career as a head coach as he led the Crimson Tide to its first undefeated regular season since 1994. His second season at the Capstone began with a 34–10 victory over the No. 9 ranked Clemson Tigers in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff in the Georgia Dome. Three weeks later Alabama had a convincing 49–14 road-win over Arkansas. The Tide followed that victory with an impressive 41–30 win over the No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. After the Georgia game, the Tide won consecutive home games against the Kentucky Wildcats and the Ole Miss Rebels and finished the month of October with a 29–9 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. Following a 35–0 homecoming victory over Arkansas State, the Crimson Tide became No. 1 in all major polls in Week 10—following a loss by No. 1 Texas to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It was the first time since the 1980 season that Alabama held the top spot during the regular season. The Tide took their No. 1 ranking into Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and came out with a 27–21 overtime victory. With the win, Alabama clinched its first SEC Western Division Championship since 1999 and guaranteed the team a trip to the 2008 SEC championship game. The Tide then improved to 11–0 with a win at home over Mississippi State. To finish the regular season, Bama defeated in-state rival Auburn, 36–0, the largest margin of victory in the series since 1962. It was Alabama's first victory over Auburn since the 2001 season. In the SEC Championship Game, Alabama suffered its first defeat in a 31–20 loss to the SEC Eastern Division Champion Florida Gators (who later won the 2008 BCS Championship), and closed out the season with a 31–17 loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season at 12–2. For his efforts during the season, Saban received several Coach of the Year awards.
No. 5 Alabama began Saban's third year by defeating the No. 7 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, 34–24. The Crimson Tide followed up with wins over Florida International and North Texas. The following week Alabama won its conference opener over Arkansas, 35–7. In its fifth game of the year Alabama beat Kentucky, 38–20. The sixth game of the season featured a hard-fought defensive battle with Bama defeating Ole Miss, 22–3. The seventh game was the same as Alabama defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 20–6. The next day, Alabama moved up to No. 1 in the AP poll for the second straight year. The next week Alabama beat Tennessee 12–10, when Terrence Cody blocked Tennessee's game winning field goal attempt with four seconds left, sealing the victory and improving the team's record to 8–0. After a bye week Alabama clinched its second straight SEC West Division Championship by knocking off LSU, 24–15. The next week Alabama defeated Mississippi State, 31–3, securing the second straight 10-win season for Alabama. Following a 45–0 blowout of Chattanooga, on Black Friday, Alabama came from behind to defeat Gene Chizik's Auburn Tigers, 26–21, marking the first time since 1973–1974 Alabama had finished the regular season undefeated in consecutive years, and the first consecutive 12-win seasons. The Crimson Tide defeated the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship, 32–13, in a rematch of the previous year's championship game. The championship represented Alabama's 22nd SEC title and its first since 1999. Saban's Crimson Tide ended the season with a 37–21 victory over the Texas Longhorns in the National Championship to finish a perfect 14–0. The win secured Saban's second national championship and Alabama's 13th, and its first in the BCS era. Following the victory over the Longhorns, The University of Alabama announced that it would unveil a statue of Saban in the week prior to the kickoff of the 2010 season. On April 16, 2011, a life-sized bronzed statue of Saban was unveiled at the 2011 A-Day spring game, making him the fifth coach to be immortalized outside the north end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
At the start of his fourth season, Alabama was overwhelmingly chosen as the preseason No. 1 team in both the AP and Coaches Poll. It was the first time since 1978 that the Crimson Tide started the season ranked N. 1. In the season opener in front a record crowd of 101,821, Alabama defeated San Jose State, 48–3. The following week, the Tide defeated Joe Paterno and the #23 Penn State 24–3 in their first meeting since 1990. The next week vs Duke, Mark Ingram made his first start of the 2010 season leading Alabama to a 62–13 victory. The next week Alabama overcame a 20–7 deficit to win its conference opener against #10 Arkansas, 24–20. On October 2, Alabama defeated #7 Florida 31–6. The following week Alabama lost to #19 South Carolina 35–21, snapping a 19-game win streak (29 in regular season). Alabama bounced back with a 23–10 win over Ole Miss, and followed that up with a 41–10 victory over Tennessee. After a bye week, Alabama suffered its second loss of the season, losing to #10 LSU, 24–21. The following week, Alabama bounced back at home defeating #17 Mississippi State, 30–10. The game marked the 800th victory for the University of Alabama's football program. The following week Alabama defeated Georgia State 63–7, the most points for Alabama since 1979. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama lost to in-state rival (and eventual BCS champions) #2 Auburn 28–27, snapping a 20-game home winning streak. In winning the game Auburn overcame a 24–0 second quarter Alabama lead, thus marking the largest deficit any team had overcome to defeat the Crimson Tide in its football program's history. Alabama was selected to play in the 2011 Capital One Bowl and in their first ever meeting, Alabama defeated #7 Michigan State 49–7 in the largest margin of victory in that bowl game. The bowl victory brought Alabama to 10–3 on the season and secured Alabama's third consecutive 10-win season.
At the start of his fifth season, Alabama came into the season ranked No. 2 in the country. In the first game of the season, Alabama defeated Saban's alma mater Kent State 48–7. The next week, Alabama traveled to Penn State for the first time since 1989 and defeated Joe Paterno and #23 Nittany Lions 27–11. Alabama recorded its first shutout of the season by defeating North Texas 41–0. In the conference opener, Alabama defeated #12 Arkansas 38–14. The next week Alabama traveled to The Swamp and defeated the 12th-ranked Florida Gators 38–10. The following week at homecoming, Alabama shut out Vanderbilt, defeating them 34–0. Alabama then traveled to Oxford and destroyed Ole Miss 52–7. In week 8, Alabama defeated their rival Tennessee 37–6 by scoring 31 unanswered points in the second half. After a bye week, Alabama played host to #1 LSU, losing in overtime 9–6. This was the first time in SEC history that two conference teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the polls played each other during the regular season. Alabama rebounded the next week after struggling in the first half, with a win over Mississippi State 24–7. The next week, Alabama defeated FCS 3rd ranked Georgia Southern 45–21 on Senior Day. This win gave Saban his fourth consecutive 10-win season, tying Bear Bryant from 1977–80. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama defeated Auburn 42–14. This was Saban's third win over the Tigers in four years. On December 4, Alabama was selected to face LSU in the BCS National Championship Game by finishing No. 2 in the final BCS rankings, the first time in college football history that two teams from the same conference (much less the same division of the same conference) played each other for the BCS Championship. In the rematch, Alabama defeated the Tigers 21–0 with a dominating defensive performance, improving Saban's record to 3–3 against Les Miles and his former employer LSU. The win secured Saban his third BCS Championship, his second with Alabama, and the 14th National Championship for the Alabama football team. He is the only coach in college football to win three BCS Championships and the first coach since Tom Osborne to win three National Championships.
At the start of his sixth season, Alabama came into the season ranked No. 2 in both preseason polls for the second consecutive year. Alabama opened the season at Cowboys Stadium against #8 Michigan in the first meeting between the schools since the 2000 Orange Bowl with Alabama winning 41–14. The next week, Alabama moved up to No. 1 in both polls, marking the fifth consecutive year the Tide have reached the top spot. A few days later, Alabama shut out Western Kentucky 35–0. Alabama opened up conference play the next week by routing Arkansas 52–0 in their sixth consecutive win over the Razorbacks. In week 4, Alabama defeated Florida Atlantic 40–7, giving Saban his 150th win. The next week, the Tide defeated Ole Miss 33–14. Following a bye week, Alabama traveled to Columbia, MO for the first time since 1978 and defeated the Missouri Tigers 42–10 in their first meeting as conference opponents. The next week Alabama defeated their rival Tennessee 44–13 for the sixth consecutive year. On homecoming, Alabama beat undefeated #13 Mississippi State 38–7. In a rematch of the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama overcame a late deficit with less than a minute left to defeat #5 LSU 21–17. The next week, Alabama suffered their first loss of the season to new conference member #15 Texas A&M 29–24. Alabama rebounded the following week recording its third shutout of the season defeating Western Carolina 49–0. The win secured Alabama's fifth consecutive 10-win season, tying the longest streak from 1971 to 1975. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama defeated Auburn 49–0 to secure its third SEC Western Division Championship under Saban. It is the second biggest margin of victory in the rivalry's history and first shutout since 2008. It is Alabama's fourth shutout of the season (second time back-to-back) and second year in a row the Tide finish the regular season 11–1. In the SEC Championship, Alabama overcame a late drive by #3 Georgia to defeat the Bulldogs 32–28 winning the schools 23rd conference title. It is Alabama's first conference championship since 2009 and Saban's fourth overall (2nd with Alabama). The win also clinched a spot in a BCS bowl game for the fourth time in five years. On December 2, Alabama finished second in the final BCS rankings for the second consecutive season. On January 7, 2013, No. 2 Alabama faced #1 Notre Dame in the first meeting between the schools since 1987, defeating the Irish 42–14 in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The win gave Alabama their 15th national championship and their third championship in four years. Alabama won back-to-back national titles for the first time since 1978 and 1979. The title was Saban's fourth national championship and his third with the Crimson Tide, tying him with Wallace Wade for second all-time at Alabama.
As the 2013 campaign began, Saban's Crimson Tide was ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches preseason polls for the first time since 2010. In the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Alabama defeated Virginia Tech 35–10 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Following a bye week, Alabama traveled to College Station, Texas to pick up its first conference win, defeating #6 Texas A&M, 49–42, in a wild shootout that Alabama had lost the year before. The Crimson Tide then went on to defeat Colorado State, which was coached by former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, 31–6. #21 Ole Miss Rebels was next up for Alabama, which shut out the Rebels 25–0 for its tenth straight win in the series. The following week saw Alabama beat Georgia State 45–3. Alabama then went on the road and defeated Kentucky 48–7. And for the second straight year Alabama defeated Arkansas 52–0. In the Third Saturday in October, The Tide defeated Tennessee 45–10 to win its seventh consecutive game over the Vols. Following their second bye week, Alabama took on #10 LSU and Saban improved his record to 5–3 against the Tigers, as Alabama won 38–17. The Crimson Tide then defeated Mississippi State 20–7 in a defensive bout. The win gave Alabama its sixth straight ten-win season, the longest in school history. On Senior day, the Tide knocked off FCS opponent Chattanooga 49–0. Up next was the Iron Bowl, which was hosted by #4 Auburn in a matchup between top five teams. The game was tied 28–28 with only a single second remaining in regulation, as Alabama and Auburn appeared headed for overtime. Extra time wasn't necessary, however, as Saban decided to attempt a 56-yard field goal instead of either running out the clock or attempting a Hail Mary from Auburn's 39-yard line. The decision proved costly, as the field goal was short but caught nine yards deep in the Auburn end zone by the Tigers' Chris Davis, who returned the failed attempt 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired. The 28–34 loss knocked Alabama out of contention for the SEC Championship and dashed The Tide's hope for a national championship. Alabama finished the regular season 11–1 for the third consecutive year and clinched a share with Auburn of the SEC West Division title. At the end of the regular season, Alabama finished ranked No. 3 in the final BCS rankings and earned an at-large bid to the 2014 Sugar Bowl. Alabama accepted an invitation to play in its third straight BCS bowl game and fifth in Saban's seven seasons at Alabama. In the Sugar Bowl, Alabama lost to #11 Oklahoma 45–31. This was Saban's second bowl loss at Alabama and first since the 2009 Sugar Bowl against Utah. The Tide finished the season at 11–2.
Starting in his eight season, Alabama began the year ranked No. 2 in the preseason AP and Coaches Poll for the third time in four years. It was the fifth straight season the Crimson Tide started the year in the top two and the seventh consecutive year in the top five. In the season opener Alabama improved to 4–0 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game beating West Virginia 33–23 in the first meeting between the two schools. The Tide won their home opener the next week over Florida Atlantic 41–0 after the game was called in the fourth quarter due to lightning. The following week they defeated Southern Miss 52–12. In their conference opener, Alabama put up 645 yards of offense beating Florida 42–21. Following a bye week Alabama was voted No. 1 in the Coaches Poll marking the seventh consecutive season Alabama has reached the top spot. Alabama suffered their first loss of the season losing to #11 Ole Miss 23–17 which ended a 10-game win streak against the Rebels. In Saban's 100th game with the Tide, Alabama bounced back, narrowly defeating Arkansas 14–13 for its eighth consecutive victory in the series. The next week the Tide dominated #21 Texas A&M shutting them out 59–0 which is the 4th largest victory in school history. In their annual rivalry with Tennessee, Alabama won their eighth straight over the Vols 34–20. After a second bye week, Alabama traveled to Baton Rouge to play #14 LSU. After a late field goal, Alabama sent the game into overtime defeating the Tigers 20–13. In a matchup of top five teams, Alabama defeated #1 Mississippi State 25–20 marking the first time Alabama has defeated an AP No. 1 team at home. Alabama then defeated FCS opponent Western Carolina 48–14. The win secured Alabama its seventh consecutive ten-win season. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama avenged their only regular season loss of last season defeating their in state rival #15 Auburn 55–44, the most points scored in the rivalry's history. The Tide finished the regular season 11–1 for the 4th straight season and won the SEC West. It was Saban's 5th division title at Alabama (8th overall for his career). In the 2014 SEC Championship Game, Saban won his 5th SEC title (3rd with Alabama) defeating #14 Missouri 42–13. It was Alabama's 24th SEC championship and first since 2012. Alabama was selected for the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed and played the No. 4 seed Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, losing 42–35. The loss was Saban's third in Sugar Bowls at Alabama. The Tide finished the season at 12–2.
Starting in his ninth season, Alabama began the year ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP and Coaches Poll marking the eighth straight year the Tide began the season in the top five. It is their lowest preseason ranking since 2009. In the season opener against #20 Wisconsin, Alabama won, 35–17, in Arlington, Texas. In the home opener, the Tide defeated Middle Tennessee, 37–10. In the conference opener, Alabama lost a back and forth struggle to #15 Ole Miss, 43–37. The following week Alabama bounced back with a 34–0 win over Louisiana Monroe. The Tide picked up a conference win dominating #8 Georgia, 38–10. Alabama then defeated Arkansas 27–14 for its ninth consecutive win in the series. The following week behind a strong defensive performance, the Tide beat #9 Texas A&M 41–23. In the annual Third Saturday in October meeting, the Tide narrowly defeated Tennessee 19–14 to win its ninth consecutive in the rivalry. After the bye week, Alabama hosted #2 LSU in a matchup of top five teams winning 30–16. It was Saban's fifth consecutive win the series. The Tide then beat #20 Mississippi State, 31–6, for the eighth straight year. Alabama then defeated FCS opponent Charleston Southern, 56–6, to secure Saban's 8th consecutive 10 win season. In the Iron Bowl, Alabama defeated in-state rival Auburn, 29–13, to secure a third straight West Division Championship and sixth for Saban at Alabama. The Tide also finished the regular season 11–1 for the fifth straight season. In the SEC Championship, Saban secured his sixth conference title when the Tide defeated #18 Florida 29–15. It's Alabama's 25th conference championship, 2nd consecutive title and third in four years. Alabama for the second straight year was selected to the College Football Playoff and will represent as the #2 seed. On December 12, running back Derrick Henry became Saban's second player to win the Heisman Trophy. Saban joined Bob Stoops as the only active coaches to have multiple Heisman winners. In the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl, Alabama shutout the #3 seed Michigan State, 38–0. The win was Alabama's first in the College Football Playoff and marked Alabama's first appearance in a national championship game since the 2012 season. Alabama went on to defeat unbeaten #1 Clemson, 45–40, to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. The victory marked Alabama's 16th national title and fourth in seven seasons. It was Saban's fifth national title and fourth at Alabama. The Tide finished the season at 14–1.
Saban was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, to Nick Lou Saban Sr. and his wife, Mary. Nick grew up and graduated from high school near the small community of Monongah, West Virginia, about 90 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On December 18, 1971, he married Terry Constable from West Virginia. They have two children, a son, Nicholas, and a daughter, Kristen. He is a devout Roman Catholic and attends Mass before games. In Tuscaloosa, the Sabans attend St. Francis of Assisi University Parish; before his transfer, St. Francis's priest Father Gerald Holloway also served as a chaplain for the football team.
Saban is of Croatian origin. Bill Belichick, with whom Nick Saban is good friends, said, when speaking about him and Saban: "Two successful Croats in the same division of NFL. You must admit, you don't see that every day."
Saban shares his last name with another famous football coach, Lou Saban. They were called "distant cousins" in a 2005 article where Lou comments on the younger Saban's success. Upon the death of Lou Saban, his widow, Joyce Saban said the two men might have been second cousins. but their families say they are not related.
Saban graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, where he played defensive back for the football team under coach Don James. Along with a roommate, he avoided being part of the infamous Kent State shootings when they decided to eat lunch before walking to the rally area. Saban owns a vacation home on Lake Burton in northeast Georgia.
Saban made a cameo appearance as himself in the movie The Blind Side. In August 2010 the movie Nick Saban: Gamechanger was released. Included in the film are interviews from Belichick and Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, among others.
Saban and his wife Terry are the co-founders of the foundation Nick's Kids. This foundation has been used by the Sabans to help mentally-challenged children ever since Saban started head coaching. In the first three years at Alabama, Nick's Kids raised more than US$1 million.
Over the years, former assistant coaches under Saban have gone on to take head coaching positions in both the NFL and at FBS schools. Current Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins while Saban was head coach. Most notable from Saban's LSU tenure are Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp, Mike Haywood and Derek Dooley. Bobby Williams, current assistant coach at Alabama took over as head coach at Michigan State University after Saban left for LSU. Another assistant from his time at Michigan State University, Mark Dantonio, is currently Michigan State's head coach. Jim McElwain, Saban's offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008 through 2011, served as the football coach at Colorado State University from 2012 to 2014, and is now the head coach at the University of Florida. Jeremy Pruitt, a defensive assistant and recruiting coordinator under Saban at Alabama from 2010 to 2012, was named the defensive coordinator for Florida State University on December 20, 2012 and on January 14, 2014 was named the defensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs at the University of Georgia.
Head coaching record
|Toledo Rockets (Mid-American Conference) (1990)|
|Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1995–1999)|
|1995||Michigan State||6–5–1||4–3–1||5th||L Independence|
|1996||Michigan State||6–6||5–3||5th||L Sun|
|1997||Michigan State||7–5||4–4||6th||L Aloha|
|1999||Michigan State||9–2*||6–2||T–2nd||Invited to Citrus*||9*||9*|
|Michigan State:||34–24–1||23–16–1||* Saban resigned before bowl game.|
|LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2000–2004)|
|2000||LSU||8–4||5–3||3rd (Western)||W Peach||22|
|2001||LSU||10–3||5–3||1st (Western)||W Sugar†||8||7|
|2002||LSU||8–5||5–3||T–2nd (Western)||L Cotton|
|2003||LSU||13–1||7–1||1st (Western)||W Sugar†||1||2|
|2004||LSU||9–3||6–2||2nd (Western)||L Capital One||16||16|
|Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (2007–present)|
|2007||Alabama||2–6[a]||1–4[a]||T–3rd (Western)||W Independence|
|2008||Alabama||12–2||8–0||1st (Western)||L Sugar†||6||6|
|2009||Alabama||14–0||8–0||1st (Western)||W BCS NCG†||1||1|
|2010||Alabama||10–3||5–3||4th (Western)||W Capital One||11||10|
|2011||Alabama||12–1||7–1||2nd (Western)||W BCS NCG†||1||1|
|2012||Alabama||13–1||7–1||1st (Western)||W BCS NCG†||1||1|
|2013||Alabama||11–2||7–1||T–1st (Western)||L Sugar†||8||7|
|2014||Alabama||12–2||7–1||1st (Western)||L Sugar†||4||4|
|2015||Alabama||14–1||7–1||1st (Western)||W Cotton†, W CFP NCG†||1||1|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|MIA||2005||9||7||0||.563||2nd in AFC East||–||–||–||–|
|MIA||2006||6||10||0||.375||4th in AFC East||–||–||–||–|
- ^Saban's on-the-field record in 2007 was 7–6 (4–4 SEC). The NCAA ruled that Alabama must vacate 21 victories due to sanctions stemming from textbook-related infractions. The infractions, and 16 of the vacated victories, began under previous coach Mike Shula, and continued until they were discovered during the 2007 season, Saban's first in Tuscaloosa, and thus the official NCAA record for that year reflects a 2–6 mark.
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- See inogolo: pronunciation of Saban.
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- Infractions Case: Michigan State University http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/NCAANewsArchive/2003/Division+I/infractions%2bcase_%2buniversity%2bof%2bmichigan%2b-%2b5-26-03.html, NCAA Register, October 7, 1996. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
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- Croatian Chronicle Network http://www.croatianchronicle.com/ccn/ 35 Pacific Northwest Croatian Athletes
- (Croatian) Jutarnji list Još jedan trener hrvatskih korijena , Feb 22, 2007
- "Saban remembers Kent State Shootings". May 5, 2008.
- Nick's Kids http://www.nickskidsfoundation.org/
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- "Jeremy Pruitt hired by Georgia Bulldogs as defensive coordinator". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- Alabama vacates victory from '09 ruling, ESPN.com, March 23, 2010
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