Alabama football coach Nick Saban
Alabama football coach Nick Saban Photo courtesy of UA

Part 1: Stability at the top is what Nick Saban brings to Alabama

The 2011 season marks Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s fifth year at the Capstone. This makes Saban the second longest serving head coach in the post-Bryant era.

Ray Perkins spent four years in Tuscaloosa during the 1983-1986 campaigns. Bill Curry followed Perkins for three years including the most memorable of his campaigns the 1989 season that resulted in a Sugar Bowl trip. Stallings posted the longest tenure in the post-Bryant era with seven seasons from 1990 to 1996. Stallings tenure included an SEC Championship and National Championship in 1992. Mike Dubose succeeded Stallings at Alabama, and presided over an out-of-control ship during his four seasons. Dubose won a conference championship in 1999, but 2000 was his last campaign posting a horrible record and with an NCAA infractions case looming.

Dennis Franchione was next to coach the Crimson Tide. His tenure lasted two years, but included an impressive record on the field. However, Franchione bolted for Texas A&M when word arrived about the severe NCAA sanctions. Mike Price was selected to follow Franchione at the Capstone. However, off-the-field issues tarnished Price’s reputation and led to his demise prior to his first season. Price was terminated during the summer, and the University of Alabama conducted a fast search to find a replacement. Former Alabama quarterback Mike Shula was tabbed as to follow Price. Shula lasted four seasons posting horrible to mediocre results during his campaign years of 2003-2006. The 2007 season saw Nick Saban on the sidelines for Alabama. During Saban’s five years, he has won a conference title and a national title.

The time since Paul W. “Bear” Bryant coached at Alabama was one of unique turmoil. When 1990 rolled around, many fans thought the 1980s were about as bad as things would get in Tuscaloosa. The long drought of SEC championships that ran from seven years ended in 1989 under Bill Curry. While that season ended in disappointment and Curry fled to Kentucky, things were looking up for Alabama fans. Unfortunately, things would get worse. The NCAA troubles that visited Tuscaloosa in the 1990s to early 2000s were a combination of issues that centered mainly on mismanagement and arrogance.

What Nick Saban brought to Alabama football was leadership. There was no doubt who was the commander. Saban cannot tolerate meddling. This was of particular benefit at a school where football matters more than anything . Nick Saban attracts more attention than what goes on in Montgomery. It does not seem like speculation to say that more people in this state could identify the Alabama football coach than the governor. By the way, who is the governor? It does not matter the coach, watching Alabama football is the most important spectator sport in this state.

Saban’s ability to handle these distractions of celebrity is an important part of the Alabama success story. Coaches like Gene Stallings allowed outside demands to distract the focus from efforts like recruiting. Mike Dubose let his mind focus on other extracurricular activities, and we all know how the Dubose era ended—with NCAA probation. Nevertheless, Saban has stayed busy in all aspects of the operation.

If there is one major criticism of Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban it has to be the team’s performance in the second half of some games. Three perfect examples are the Alabama-Georgia game in 2008, the Alabama-Texas national championship game at the Rose Bowl in January 2010, and the Iron Bowl loss to Auburn in 2010. Alabama hung on to beat Georgia and Texas, but the games became closer in the second half than it should have been. This is odd since so much of Saban’s emphasis is on good conditioning. If you discount a conditioning problem, which was the reason so many of Mike Shula’s Alabama football teams sucked, then you are left with pointing the finger at either the team’s focus or the coaching philosophy. If a team’s focus slips then you can also point to the coaching staff for allowing that to happen. Saban’s approach puts so much emphasis on player personal responsibility that when players fail to respond bad things can happen—see La. Monroe. Of course, it is hard to argue with Saban’s overall track record with two national championships at two different SEC schools. Saban knows what he is doing. However, it will be interesting to see if Saban’s second half philosophy continues the way it has been, or if the coach pushes harder to put teams away and not allow them back into games.

Bottom Line: Saban is 129-53-1; he has won over 70 percent of all games as a coach. At Alabama, Saban’s record is 43-11. Saban is 36-5 over the last three years at Alabama, or winning almost 90 percent of all games. Saban has two BCS national championships: 2003 LSU and 2009 Alabama. For more about Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban read: The foundation of Nick Saban’s success and 20 Random Things About Alabama’s Nick Saban.

14 thoughts on “Alabama Football Preview 2011: Nick Saban means stability for Tide”

  1. I attribute some of the second half collapses by Saban coached teams at Bama to not making enough adjustments at halftime. Especially when they are up big at halftime. It is like when they have a big lead, they tend to go conservative and play not to lose in the second half.

    I do think Saban self-evaluates on a regular basis, and I do think they break everything down and focus on improving the weaknesses in their game. He is still one of the best motivators, and his coaching philosophy fits Alabama very well. I think the disappointment of a 10-3 season shows how far he has taken Bama in just a short time. I think that he will improve that record this season.

  2. What I like the most about Coach Saban and what I think makes him the perfect fit for head football coach at UA is his no nonsense style.

    There is no doubt about who is running the show and he’s not going to put up with any outside meddling other coaches (Shula, DuBose) did.

    For some unknown (to me) reason Fox 6 (B’ham) replayed the ’89 Alabama v. Auburn game yesterday afternoon. Seeing that gasbag Curry on the sideline (and for those of you out there who have fond feelings for Curry, Pat Dye did too) made me appreciate having Coach Saban all the more.

    You Aubies can crow about last year’s game a while longer, it’s your right. Just remember the fate of Urban Meyer and Florida once the target was on their backs.

    You’re there my friends.


  3. Good article, but the blowup didn’t happen in the second half of the Iron Bowl. Bama had already lost their momentum after they got up 24-0. I think the Ingram fumble and the dropped TD pass by Richardson kind of deflated them and then when Aubie drove in for a TD just before half it immediately changed both teams motivations. Even in spite of that the final score was a farce because of Barron’s dumbazz decision not to take himself out of the game when he only had the use of one arm. Both of those 70 yard TD’s were the direct result of Barron’s inability to tackle with one arm as he was the only man in position to make both tackles. There is no possibility that Aubie would have had enough time for two prolonged drives had those two tackles been made. And then there was the busted play that let McElroy get hurt. No way in hell with him in the game that Bama doesn’t move close enough for a game ending field goal attempt. But the second half is not the only problems Saban has with motivation and preparation. The entire USCjr and LSU games were prime examples of bullshyt football. You can say what you want, I don’t care. But the team that killed Michigan St. should have waltzed through last season never allowing anyone to come within two touchdowns of them. I could deal with an upset at the hands of a Kentucky team taken lightly better than I can deal with losing to highly regarded rivals who were not as good as us. Something needs to be done about how those type of games are prepared for and adjusted to. Hell we almost let three mediocre teams – Kentucky, Tennessee and Aubie destroy our National Championship in ’09. I’m very happy with what Saban is doing at Bama, but the disappointment is that he has the material to have done and to do so much more. RTR!

  4. Interesting on the Saban era on the fifth year. I though Shula would be around FOREVER — especially after they extended his contract before they axed his ass. Best thing ever done by Moore & Co.

  5. Love the new look of the Capstone Report — sad the avatar’s are disabled — let’s keep the avatar’s real too — I’d like to put a face to some of these names when they are enabled.

    1. Actually, I thought the avatars are enabled. Let me see what i can do to get it working.

      Glad you like it. Hope to continue to make things a little different. We had the same look since 2006. That is a long time.

  6. Yeah thats right Damage, this will be Sabans first team with all Saban recruits won’t it? I really liked Shula and think he is a class act, just not ready to be a head coach at a place like Bama. I am glad we have a coach like Saban. He has been aggressively recruiting at Bama as well as anyone ever has. I think he finishes his career at Bama as well.

    And Crimsonite: You are right. The Ingram fumble changed the momentum for sure. Last season was injury plagued, and Saban teaches that mental toughness. After seeing so many fellow team mates go down, it is hard to fault Barron for staying in the game. Who is to say his replacement would have done any better? I think that game left a bad taste in everyones mouth, and I think we capitalize on that this season. Auburn will be the team trying to defend itself from everyone wanting a piece of that butt this year. And with the dirty play of Nick Farley, more than one team will be up for kicking them when they are down this season. I think if Saban has the chance this year, he runs the score up.

  7. They aren’t disabled. You have to signup with the site that furnishes the link. There’s so much hate, discontent and downright dementia on this site that I personally have no desire to furnish the personal info that they require to use a phucking avatar. Probably can’t use your own anyway.

  8. Finebammer already has his avatar. and before you say that all they require is your email address, you need to understand that with a real email address everything, and I mean everything can be found out about you. As for me, hackers and the FBI can go phuck themselves. That’s why I use a laptop with free wifi, a prepaid cellphone, an unregistered PO Box, and live in Mexico. I am a conspiracy theorist. Randy Weaver and me could have been best friends. Bwaa Haww Haww! RTR!

  9. Stability of the Crimson Tide program was what Coach Bryant was reportedly worried about the most when he stepped down nearly 30 years ago.
    Took some doing, but looks like Bama has finally found their man.

Comments are closed.