Appreciation for Nick Saban

Nick Saban has given Alabama its swagger back

By Hunter Ford

If Nick Saban becomes one of our exes, living in Texas, all Alabama fans would still owe him a debt of gratitude. We should also wish him well, that is unless we have to face his team on the field.

Saban has exorcised a lot of demons that kept Tide fans awake at night. The University of Alabama and its fan base are accustomed to winning at least one national championship in each decade. It has been that way since the 1920s, with only two exceptions. The 1950s were not “happy days” for Alabama, until Bear Bryant came home to Mama. The 1980s were notorious for parachute pants, thin ties, crappy music, and no Alabama national championship.

The first part of the 21st Century was a dreary time to be an Alabama fan. Dennis Franchione tantalized us in his short two-year tenure. His first team dominated Auburn on the Plains, and his second team ended a long losing streak to Tennessee. Remember how we loved that nasal-toned two-timer? And how that quickly turned to hatred?

If Saban were to leave, we shouldn’t hold the same grudge. After Fran we got Mike “It’s Rollin’ Baby!” Price and then, Mike “Not Rollin’ Anywhere” Shula. Tommy Tuberville was practicing his math skills, showing us his fingers at every opportunity (That’s the way they do that at Auburn you know…there’s a whole major in it. You can double-major telling time on a standard clock.) But I digress. It was an awful time. A national championship seemed as distant as a trip to Mars.

When Saban was announced as our coach in 2007, it was euphoric. A drunk girl met him at the airport and nearly choked him with Jager Meister kisses. We had watched him work at LSU and we knew a coach like that could do wonders at Alabama. Hell, every coach since the Bear, no matter how incompetent, had at least one 10-win season. We could imagine the possibilities with a guy who came to town with the big ring on his finger.

Saban didn’t have a magical first season by any stretch, but we did win a bowl game. Then, in 2008, we rambled through the regular season undefeated, trashing Auburn at the end. Consequently, Tommy Tuberville never learned to count to seven. The SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl that year were bummers, but we could tell we were on the verge of something really big.

Saban made Tim Tebow cry in the 2009 SEC Championship rematch, and beat Texas (a program Alabama was 0-3-1 against) for the national championship. Alabama had a down year in 2010. That shows you how far we came under Saban. A 10-3 season was great under Dubose or Shula, but it was a disappointment with Saban. He quickly pulled us back up again, winning BSC titles back-to-back… an historic all-SEC affair with LSU, and the crown jewel, a drubbing of the hated Fighting Irish.

Saban will never be “the Bear.” Alabama is not “Mama” to him. Saban didn’t play in the Rose Bowl for the Tide. He hasn’t coached Alabama for 25 years. But he gave us our swagger back. We are 11-1 and headed to the Sugar Bowl and it’s a “down” season. The only team that beat us is in the national championship game. Thanks Nick Saban. We love you man!
P.S. I don’t think Saban is going anywhere except back to work, to win more national championships at Alabama.