Shane: The Saban Effect

The “Saban effect” creates wave of desperate moves by opposing SEC schools
By Shane from Centerpoint

An unusual phenomenon occurred in the Southeastern Conference during the 2008 football season. Seems like Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide dominated and embarrassed some of their traditional opponents so badly on the field that those programs chose to fire their current coaches, and rebuild from the ground up. In fact, two of the schools – Auburn and Tennessee – were so shell-shocked by the talent Saban put on the field that they fired a couple of the most successful coaches in modern SEC history.

You’re welcome to say what you want about Thomas Hawley Tuberville, but he probably took Auburn University as high up the national ladder of respect as they will ever go. He also kept Tiger fans happy by beating their main rival Alabama and even piloted Auburn to an undefeated 13-0 season in 2004, which at least had them poised to play for a national championship.

However, none of the accomplishments he achieved during his 10-year career at Auburn seemed to matter the day after the Tide shellacked his Tigers 36-0 in the 2008 Iron Bowl. In the bitter end, all the blood, sweat, and tears he shed during those ten years meant nothing to those who signed his check.

Evidently, according to the Auburn family, everything about Nick Saban had to be counteracted and it had to be done right then, if they were going to save the program. Some Auburn people believe that there are a few men – who have no business running the football team (but they love their university!) – who are convinced that they can close the gap on Saban by totally revamping the system.

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Meanwhile, up in Knoxville, Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer never saw it coming. One would think that the 1998 national championship he delivered, his multiple appearances in the SEC title game, along with a winning record over arch-rival, Alabama, might allow Phil to survive a bad season.

Not a chance! Fulmer’s castle began to crumble when Alabama came into his house and pummeled his team for the second year in a row. That woodshed-whipping started a snowball effect that saw the Vols collapse down the stretch. The Tennessee moneymen decided it was time to wipe the slate clean and start over.

As for the men each school chose to lead them in their war against Saban, both are rather odd picks. Auburn picked a strange one for sure. Most people would expect a school of Auburn’s stature to hire a big-name coach who is at the top of his game. Instead, the Tiger search committee decided to bring in a guy who had a losing record at his last head-coaching stop. Gene Chizik was 5-19 overall at Iowa state, losing his last 10 in a row. Hey! It might be the hire of the century, but it doesn’t look good on paper.

The Alabama sports media and Auburn fans in general seem to believe that the new assistants Chizik has hired will improve recruiting and enable the Tigers to be more competitive in the future. Sounds like a radical move to me. There is no telling what will occur during the upcoming transitional period down on the Plains. Call me crazy, but some of Chizik’s hires make me wonder what additional recruiting techniques Auburn is planning to add to their menu?

Actually, in my opinion Tennessee’s hiring of Lane Kiffin is an even more bizarre choice than Auburn’s decision to bring in Chizik. This young, inexperienced coach, fresh off the cover of GQ magazine, is supposedly surrounding himself with a staff of great recruiters – who will deliver the “blue-chip” national talent. In fact, he boasted about “stealing” the top recruiters from several SEC schools – including Alabama.

The guys who run Volunteer football apparently forgot about the pathetic product that Kiffin put on the field while he was the head coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Why is this clown bringing in his daddy to coach the defense? Face it Kiffin’s old man has been coaching in the NFL for the bulk of his career so how is he going to adapt his style to coaching college kids?

Additionally, with Kiffin’s hiring of Ed Orgeron to run recruiting, he’s made a statement to the rest of the SEC – Tennessee will do “what ever it takes” to win. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad move by the Vols, but that type of stuff will eventually come to light.

When you look through the smoke and mirrors, both Auburn and Tennessee – as well as Mississippi State and ACC member Clemson – all fell victim to the “Saban effect” because they were out-matched and overwhelmed on the field. The truth is that none of these knee-jerk, off-the-field maneuvers by any of these programs really mean anything until these new coaches, and their hotshot staffs, prove that they can produce victories on the field.

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  1. 1

    What techniques are u talking about shane? Which one of our new coach’s have been caught doing something shady with recruits. Another thing Shane, there were multiple reasons the coach’s u mentioned were fired, but bama only slightly played into it.UT had absolutely no year-in year-out consistency, while AU’s problem over last few years has been the O. And Tubs made an error in his hiring and it cost him. I think the loss to Vandy was it forTubs.UT’s apparently going to do whatever it takes to win, sound familiar.lke the pot calling the kettle black(sorry, no better analogies).Changes at AU and UT were needed and they happened. Only a bama fan would think it was because of them.and I honestly would rather fire coach’s than have them run away from our present coach. Before too long there won’t be any assistants left for Saban to ridicule. Also, Fulmer’s castle began to crumble a few years ago, and winning 3 games did nothing to help stop the crumbling.

  2. 2

    Both Saban’s and Meyer’s success had a heckuva lot to do with the coaching direction in the SEC. You are spot on with this assumption.

    Otherwise given your comments surrounding Tennessee, you need just log off and graze on a Bama sheep site. Your concept that Bama was the main or final force that got rid of Fulmer is bat dung crazy. Everybody beat Tennessee. Fulmer has proven that without David Cutcliffe he cannot coach his way past a team like Jax State.

    And Kiffin? Wow. Read a little. Bear Bryant could not coach Oakland any better than what Kiffin did. Monte? Attack him for being old or unable to recruit. He’s known as the best living Xs and Os defensive mind by many, many coaches.

    Coach O is funny. I still like to laugh at him. Fact is he is a past rivals recruiter of the year and accomplished D-Line coach.

    And I guess that Lance Thompson clown Tennessee hired was the Bama Bagman and will drag TN down. Another rivals recruiter of the year on the team.

    I cheered for Bama against Florida and Utah. I am glad Bama is back and even getting better. Tennessee is catching up, but they will be there soon.

    Auburn sucks. They hired a complete loser. What the heck were they thinking?

  3. 3

    pitiful article, man. seriously…so let me help you out from the tennessee volunteers side of the table.
    1) Your quote: “Volunteer football apparently forgot about the pathetic product that Kiffin put on the field while he was the head coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.” Really? You begin your argument by pointing out the Raiders? NO ONE will have success there for a long time. Al Davis is the worst owner in all of pro football, and if you argue with that then you prove your own stupidity. Kiffin could not even hire the staff he wanted to hire in Oakland b/c of Davis. The Raiders are a disastrous organization and have years of digging out of their hole.
    2) Your quote even more ignorant than the first: “Why is this clown bringing in his daddy to coach the defense?” Ummm…maybe because he’s one of the best defense minds in ALL of football history. That probably has something to do with it. Dad or no dad, most any college program would LOVE to have Monte on defensive staff, including the Tide who couldn’t stop Utah to save their lives.
    3) Your quote: “Tennessee will do “what ever it takes” to win”: That’s bad? UT didn’t do anything illegal, and hiring staff positions obviously means the staffers come from where? Someone else’s staff! Wow…amazing concept. Example: I’m working at Joe Blow College (a wonderful place that I love possibly) and Joe Competitor College recognizes that I’m a good staffer and they offer me 2x my current salary. What will I most likely do? Better my family’s financial security, resume, and experience by taking the new position. That is called football administration, and it happens everywhere.
    And yes, UT has decided to do whatever it takes (read: pony up the dollars; i.e. $4 million for wonderful NICK SABAN, for example) to get their program back on top.
    Shane, please try and be a little better educated and more thoughtful before you write another article illustrating your ignorance. If not for yourself, do it for your readers. And if you’d like to respond, please refute me on my own examples and arguments just as I so fairly engaged you on your own grounds.

  4. 5

    I’ve go a different spin.

    Auburn tried to proactively go to the future Offense of all successful programs. It failed badly. Tubbs was at his end – not after losing 36-0 to bammer – but after losing 5 straight, including Ark and Ole Miss. He was gone long before the IB buddy. You should know this Shane – you had the tubby watch going for quite some time right???
    Auburn has not abandoned the idea of running a smart, high-octane offense. It has simply fixed its mistake and hired a complete staff that believes in the system.

    Other SEC teams were whipped by bammer this past year because they were ALL trying to move to something new. Bammer stayed the course of smash mouth football and it paid off. Keep thinking that it’s going to stay that way as Auburn, Ark, and Ole Miss start building talent around the type O they are building, and you are going to have more disapointing nights like the one you had Jan 2 in the Sugar Bowl.

    Can’t wait until the bammer’s start calling for Saban to move to a different style offense as they carefully try not to sound like they want to be more like Auburn.


  5. 6

    Spot on dbau93!!! Could not have said it better. Trying to talk factual and sensible to most of these bammers is pretty futile, however. I check in on this site for entertainment. If you aren’t here for entertainment, let me save you some time and give you a quick synopsis—12 national championships (or is it 13 now), bear bryant, saban, all coaches are afraid of saban, julio jones, bear bryant, bear bryant is back, the “process”, RTR, saban is my hero, did I mention bear bryant? That sums it up…..bear bryant…..

  6. 9

    Auburnsux, what great coach and tradition do you have to speak of? We won’t laugh if you bring up the NC you split over a half century ago. You know, the one yall celebrated at a half time home game for it’s fifty year anniversary.

    Omni, do you not think it is hilarious for a fan of a school that did not even make it to a bowl game to make fun of the second youngest team in the country to lose to the number one and number two team in the country?

  7. 10

    Bamaman–if you measure tradition by how many NC trophies (bogus, or not) bama has, well, maybe ya’ll are oozing tradition. But try this on for size. For the past several weeks, Shane as well as many of the bammers that post here and elsewhere, have been talking about the “additional recruiting techniques” Auburn is employing to “catch up” with bama, despite no evidence to back it up.
    Would those supposed “recruiting techniques” have anything to do with the ones the mighty Bear perfected while at bama?????? If Bear Bryant coached today like he did back then, he would most likely be in JAIL. Man up, and face it. What’s good for Auburn is good for bammer. If you scratch out those ill gotten NCs from the glorious bryant days, guess what??? One NC in the last 50 years!!
    Let’s leave the world of speculated cheating and recruiting violations and step into the program that perfected it. Better known as university of alabama.
    You can take THAT tradition and shove right up your crimson ass.

  8. 11
    Tony Martin is a prophet

    Funny. You cite Kiffin’s record at Oakland. How about Saban’s at Miami? I’m sorry, but Nick Saban is not SCARING everybody in the SEC. He’s coached there before, remember.

    This Saban worshiping is laughable and pathetic.

  9. 12

    I must concur with the Auburn folks, this article is a bit of a reach.

    I don’t know that anyone he has hired is even the least bit suspect. And while it would be strange to be your dad’s boss, Pops Monte is a sharp guy and he’ll have UT’s D playing lights-out soon.

    I also think that Kiffin knows he might be in over his head, BUT, he is smart enough to bring in as many good people as he can to learn.

    He’s following the USC formula, if you think about it. Find an NFL guy who wants to be in college, get as many 5-stars as you can and win on talent alone… while maybe dropping an obvious win here and there.

  10. 13

    Let me also add that I’m not at all concerned about Alabama’s future. It’s not like Saban isn’t an amazing recruiter himself, and he’s smart/good enough to pull in more strong people for the University.

  11. 14

    What an incredible article! Every word is true. I believe President Bush is losing his job today as well, so we can add that to the Saban effect as well!

  12. 16

    Auburnsux, if you are not to stupid to google the top three most cheatin, probation riddled schools in the country of all time, you will see that it is AUBURN, so spare me the Bear going to jail bs you pathetic AL obsessed website trolling Bamawannabe inbred trailer trash. Now stick that up you ass.

  13. 18

    Omni, I was referring to your comment about Al having their ass handed to them by FL and UTE. Like I said, if Aub had won just seven more games that could have been yall getting your ass handed to you.

  14. 19

    Why do you Aubies get so mad on this site? Did you try out for the team and find out that they won’t accept one-star long snappers? You yourselves ought to know that you must be atleast a two-star to make it on this team.

  15. 20

    What makes Alabama think that what happens at their school dictates what happens at other schools? You all have a seriously inflated ego.

  16. 21

    BmM I was refering to the fact that bama has played 2 games since the 36-0 IB and if you guys had won either I could understand the 36-0 comments. And hell as a GREAT BUMMER once said you guys beat a CRIPPLED AU! hmmmm sounds STUPID dont it! SOUNDS Familiar to dont it!?
    But the fact is Nick could not win the Big Ones when they counted But maybe you guys will be content with that? Do you think you will or do ya wanna win a SEC CG or just a BG? ??


  17. 22

    Yea it’s a bitch when your team comes up woefully short of the arrogant standard set at bammer.

    “We win championships at bama!”

    Arrogant, pompous asses. Don’t you see why so many enjoy your failures??

  18. 23

    Auburnsux, what is so funny is the fact the last ten years at Bama have been their worse, undisputed, it has also been Aub’s best in their history, undisputed, and since you only want to talk about the big one’s, you loser’s don’t have any more SEC Championships than we do in those ten years. Let’s take a recount on those SEC’s ten years from now. But that’s really not fair, you have to at least make it to a bowl game first and with the way Aub’s recruiting is going you can look to competing with Vandy for last in the SEC for a long time, but good luck with Mr. 5 and 19. bwahahahahahaha

  19. 24

    Omni, you are right! Since we did not win those last two it shows how bad of a team we had, I wish we had been better so our score would have been more than 36-0

  20. 28
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO! First of all, SHANE: There was tension up in Knoxville long before Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa. That goes back to 2001. They were heavily favored to beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game and they simply got beat in the 2nd half by a supposedly “weaker” LSU squad coached by Saban & Company. That’s only where it began; things began heating up for Fulmer in 2005 when they finished 5-6. By this time Saban was at Miami. It was simply Tennessee not living up to all the hype they recieved prior to the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2005 seasons. There were a couple of those seasons where the MEDIA GURUS picked the Vols to contend for the NC, for cryin’ out loud! When stuff like that happens, it causes the natives to get restless. Fulmer didn’t help things because Tennessee wasn’t getting any better; they were simply predictable because they were doing the same things they had been doing but with LESS TALENT. As for Auburn & Tuberville, the “powers that be” down in the village were doing one thing: WAITING FOR TUBERVILLE TO SCREW UP! That’s ALL they had to do! They knew that sooner or later Tubby would “stub his toe.” The arrival of Nick Saban at Alabama DID send a signal to EVERYONE in the SEC that ‘Bama was serious about returning to the mountaintop, and I believe we will, but a monumental goal takes TIME and PATIENCE to accomplish. History has shown that both Tennessee and Auburn have been reactionary to what Alabama was doing. That’s why Johnny Majors was hired in 1977, fresh off a NC at Pitt. At that point, UT had lost 6 straight to ‘Bama and the only reason they were patient with Majors was because he was one of their own. Auburn hired Pat Dye because he was an assistant on Coach Bryant’s staff for SEVERAL years and figured that to beat the Bear they had to hire someone who knew Coach Bryant and his staff; how they worked, how went about their business. Its always been the same…when someone is doing something good and beneficial for whatever enterprise they are involved in the RIVALS want their “slice of the pie.” Someone usually gets “thrown under the bus” but its BECAUSE of the “What have you done for us lately” mentality. Fulmer and Tuberville had been under considerable “heat” for quite some time. It just happened during Saban’s watch.

  21. 29
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO AGAIN! Hey, “Bamasux” (maybe I should address YOU as “AU Swallows”); WHAT’S ALL THIS CRAP ABOUT “questionable recruiting practices that began at ‘Bama” and those “ill-gotten NC’s of the Bryant Days?” If ANY of you barnies have PROOF that Coach Bryant cheated, WHY WON’T YOU ANTE UP? SHOW US WHAT Y’ALL HAVE BEEN CRYING ABOUT ALL THESE YEARS! “Ill-gotten National Championships?” Well, let’s take a look. 1961…CONSENSUS (AP & UPI) National Champions. 1964…CONSENSUS (AP & UPI) National Champions. 1965…AP National Champions. 1973…UPI National Champions. 1978…AP National Champions. 1979…CONSENSUS (AP & UPI) National Champions. IF THESE CHAMPIONSHIPS WERE “ILL-GOTTEN” as YOU say, I would argue that A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD CONCUR WITH MY CONCLUSION before accepting your totally MADCAP and INCONCLUSIVE NONSENSE! Just learn to live with HISTORY. ROLL TIDE!

  22. 30
    Un-Named Source

    TO: The Bammer for St. Clair that Swallows AU:

    I played football at a Jefferson County High School in 1978. The school won the state title that year with a good QB, good RB and a dominating Tight End/Defensive End. The TE/DE committed to Alabama and 3 days later drove a brand new car (Grand Prix I think) to school that his “Dad” bought him. He had a good 4 years at Bama and went on to the NFL for just a couple of years or so.

    Now Mr. St. Clair, I have no proof of how or where he got that car but not many people believed it was given to him from his dad….but O.J. Simpson got away with murder too!

    The point being…get off your high horse and realize that the Bear, God rest his soul, was probably the most powerful man in college football and could get away with just about anything he needed or wanted to. Just because he wasn’t caught doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty. To get caught you have to be chased. Wise up fool!

  23. 31

    And don’t forget the doling out of unlimited scholarships just so players would come to bama and not go to opposing schools…..half those guys probably sat on the bench for 4 years and lost any chance at playing time and playing at the next level. Really sounds like a coach that “cared about the kids being all they could be” don’t it??
    My neighbor’s cousin played for Bear from 76-78. He spoke of the scholarship players and the “scholarship plus” players. New cars, clothes, etc.
    Sure, it went on at a lot of colleges, but don’t point fingers at Auburn and Tennessee without first looking in the crimson colored mirror.

  24. 32
    Ty from T-Town

    Shane, I am totally reminded about the Coach Killer article back in November. As far as head coaches go, head’s started rolling early in the 2008 season. I am pretty damn sure that it was not a coincidence that Coach Saban was at least a catalyst in some of the head coaching departures.
    Perhaps they were unable to match his work ethic, and simply suffered by comparison.
    I can asure you this, the fine folks in
    T-Town, are not at all displeased by the
    2008 season.
    The theory of the process has now exposed serious potential.

    I think he called it: “The team that no one wants to play.”

  25. 34
    Michael Bynum

    The most powerful coach in college football doesn not reside in Tuscaloosa.
    He is currently holding the position of Head Coach of the Florida Gators….
    Let’s see…hummmmmm!
    2 (count them) TWO National Championships. How many does Saban Have at your school? Of course with your quick rapier wit you will say, “Well, he’s only been there 2 years.” True…but Meyer hasn’t been at Florida that long either and he’s already stamped the SEC with his identity. Face it, the reason you went out and hired Saben was the Meyer effect. You know you’ll never compete with Florida, heck, you can’t even compete with UTAH. Can you say “Meltdown”.
    Dude…Gator chomp all the way….

  26. 35

    Good point…..the “Meyer effect” is more plausible than the saban effect. Just more of that bama arrogance….they think the college football world revolves around them.
    One of the reasons they are the team I love to hate.

  27. 36
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO! Hey, “Bamasux” (really, they don’t); I’ll be the first to admit that boosters throw money at players. However, back in the 60’s and most of the 70’s there were no set number of how many scholarships a school could give. The NCAA started limiting scholarships around 1979 or 1980. Sure, Alabama and several other universities around the U.S. would recruit players just to keep them from playing for other teams. They did that as long as there wasn’t A RULE. Auburn would have done the same thing and probably did to a certain extent. ‘Bama just happened to get the creme of the crop. I know your mantra…”There’s a reason for that!” My question is this; if there was any animosity between Coach Bryant and Coach Jordan concerning Auburn being investigated and placed on probation in the mid-70’s, why did they continue to hunt & fish together?

  28. 37

    Good point. One of the mysteries of the powerful. They don’t turn on one another. You know it’s taboo for a President of the US to openly bad mouth a previous administration, no matter how much they disagree with one another. They don’t investigate predecessors indiscretions.
    I think it may cause a snowball/domino effect that no one wants. Ask Fulmer.

    There’s rules to “this thing of ours.”

  29. 38
    The BAMMER from St. Clair

    YO! Coach Bryant & Coach Jordan did have respect for each other. Maybe that was the overriding element. I know that the only time Coach Bryant admitted to cheating was in the recruitment of a player while he was at Texas A&M. At that time (the 1950’s) everybody in the old Southwest Conference were paying players. Coach Bryant said that he was only “doing what everybody else was doing” but some of the other coaches around the league turned him in. That was probably their way of saying “Welcome to our world. Remember A&M’s place.” Their “place” when he arrived was at the cellar of the conference. That changed within a couple of seasons. After the “debacle” with the NCAA he told his staff that if ANY of them got caught cheating, they were FIRED, no questions asked. That was his policy at Alabama, and his staff knew to abide by his rules. BOOSTERS are completely different animals. You can ask them not to do the deed, you can THREATEN them not to, and you can DISTANCE yourself from them, but they won’t listen until the NCAA hammers the school AND THEN they just back off for awhile.

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