Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has been under a wide amount of criticism recently, but don’t let that overshadow some of his best college football moments over the years. After all, Saban is arguably the greatest college football head coach in NCAA history.
Things started to implode for Saban when he commented on the current landscape of college football – more specifically, the recruiting process. Alabama had the No. 2 recruiting class, which is nothing to be upset over, but he was a little frustrated with who had the No. 1 class.
Texas A&M pulled away with the greatest draft class of all-time this offseason and Saban quickly dismissed it, stating the university “bought every player” with the use of name, image, and likeness deals, also known as NIL deals. He added that Alabama recruited “the right way.”
Best College Football Moments From Nick Saban
Saban’s comments were uncalled for – stating your opinion on NIL deals is one thing, but openly criticizing and going as far as accusing another team of cheating is a whole different story. In fact, Texas A&M’s coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t hold back in his response to Saban’s comments.
This might be a small bump in the road for Nick Saban, someone who’s usually very careful about his comments – especially those made in front of a camera. With that said, it shouldn’t overshadow his incredible, long, illustrious, and championship-filled career as a college coach.
We’re talking about a coach that has a 274-67-1 record as a college head coach. He has won a National Championship with two schools (one of three coaches to do so) with his six titles at Alabama and one with LSU. Let’s take a look at some of Saban’s best college football moments.
15. Nick Saban Wins First National Championship in 2003
Nick Saban was hired as the head coach of LSU in November of 1999, leading the team to a 26-12 record over the next three years – and two bowl wins. In 2003, he continued that success with a 13-1 record and a trip to the 2004 Sugar Bowl – the BCS National Championship Game.
LSU opened the scoring with an early touchdown in the first quarter and while Oklahoma scored one in the second quarter, LSU responded just a couple minutes later to take a 14-7 lead into the half. A pick-six to open the third quarter gave LSU enough for Saban’s first career national title.
14. Nick Saban Leaves for the NFL in 2004
Nick Saban was named the sixth head coach in Miami Dolphins’ history on December 25, 2004 – just one week before his LSU Tigers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. The Tigers finished the season 9-3 as the Saban era quickly came to an end at Louisiana State.
Saban spent two seasons with the Dolphins, but didn’t have the same success in the NFL as he had in college football – Miami went 9-7 in 2005 and 6-10 in 2006. In 2007, Saban accepted a job to become the head coach at the University of Alabama, bringing his NFL experiment to an end.
13. Nick Saban Signs With Alabama in 2007
Nick Saban might’ve stayed with the Dolphins if they signed Drew Brees that offseason, but they didn’t and it was probably one of the worst decisions that franchise ever made. Not only did they miss out on one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, but it resulted in them losing Saban too.
Saban announced he was signing an eight-year contract with the University of Alabama on January 3, 2007 after a month of denying any interest. He replaced Mike Shula, who was fired just over a month prior. It was yet another fine and illustrious hiring by the Crimson Tide.
12. Nick Saban Wins Second National Championship in 2010
Nick Saban didn’t have immediate success with Alabama – his team finished 2-6 under his leadership during the 2007 season. That’s the last time Saban would have a losing season. In fact, Saban has won at least 10 games with Alabama ever since – which is an incredible feat.
The Crimson Tide finished the 2008 season with a 12-2 record, but lost in the Sugar Bowl. They came out firing on all cylinders in 2009, posting a perfect 14-0 record en route to Nick Saban’s first National Championship with Alabama and second title of his career. It was the first of many.
11. Nick Saban Wins Third National Championship in 2012
The 2010 season ended with a 10-3 record and while Alabama won the Capital One Bowl, they failed to repeat as national champions. Of course, it didn’t take long for Alabama to find their way back into championship contention, posting an impressive 12-1 record during the 2011 season.
Their efforts led them to the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against none other than the LSU Tigers – Saban’s former club. The Crimson Tide had no issues putting this one away 21-0 thanks to five field goals made by Jeremy Shelley. It was Saban’s third national title.
10. Nick Saban Wins Fourth National Championship in 2013
Nick Saban didn’t waste any time getting back to the national championship game. Alabama finished the 2012 season with a 13-1 record and punched themselves a ticket to the 2013 BCS National Championship as the No. 2 seed against No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
It was yet another blowout by the Crimson Tide. They entered halftime with a commanding 28-0 lead after scoring 14 unanswered points in each quarter. Notre Dame scored two touchdowns in the second half, but they were matched by Amari Cooper and his two second half touchdowns.
9. Nick Saban Inducted Into Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2013
On December 11, 2012, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame announced that Nick Saban was one of eight people to be inducted as the Class of 2013. It was an incredible honor for someone who had only been in the community for six years. Nonetheless, it was well-earned for Saban.
Of course, it was just the beginning of what was yet to come – which we’ll discuss in more detail below. The induction ceremony occurred on May 18, 2013, just a few months after Saban’s Crimson Tide won their second-consecutive National Championship (the one discussed above).
8. Nick Saban Gives His Second Chances Rant in 2014
This is an iconic press conference with Nick Saban that shows how dynamic he can be with a mic in front of him. He began his response to the question by praising one of his players, but it turned into him scolding the media about second chances – then laughing it off at the end.
DJ Pettway, the player mentioned at the beginning, was dismissed by Alabama in 2013 after being arrested for second-degree robbery charges. He was given a second chance and returned to Alabama, eventually earning his degree and making the most of his opportunities.
7. Nick Saban Wins Fifth National Championship in 2016
After winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013, Alabama went 11-2 and 12-2 in the following two seasons – losing in the Sugar Bowl each season. They returned to form for the 2015 season, finishing the year 14-1 and winning the Cotton Bowl for a ticket to the title game.
They were matched up against the Clemson Tigers for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Alabama was down 24-21 entering the fourth quarter, but outscored the Tigers 24-16 in the final 15 minutes in what was a legendary finish to an incredible game.
6. Nick Saban Reaches 200 College Wins in 2016
Talk about a special moment, this one happened on November 5, 2016 when the No. 13 LSU Tigers hosted Nick Saban and the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide for a late-season matchup. Entering the game, Saban had a 199-60-1 record as a college football head coach.
The game was scoreless through three quarters, but Jalen Hurts broke the silence with a 21-yard TD run not even two minutes into the fourth quarter. Alabama won 10-0 and Saban earned his 200th career win against his former club – it couldn’t have been written any better.
5. Nick Saban Wins Sixth National Championship in 2018
After reaching the 200-win mark, the Crimson Tide finished the 2016 season with a 14-1 record and won the Peach Bowl, but lost in the championship game. They followed that up with another one-loss season, finishing the 2017 season with a 13-1 record and a win at the Sugar Bowl.
That win secured them yet another ticket into the national title game – this time against the Georgia Bulldogs on January 8, 2018. Georgia got off to a 13-0 start, but tied the game at 20-20 by the end of regulation. Alabama won the game in overtime with a DeVonta Smith touchdown.
4. Nick Saban Watches 12 of His Players Get Drafted in 2018
At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Nick Saban knew he was going to see a lot of his top players leave for the NFL – it’s something he had grown accustomed to over the years. In this particular year, he saw 12 of his players hear their name called – the most of Saban’s career.
They were Minkah Fitzpatrick (11), Da’Ron Payne (13), Rashaan Evans (22), Calvin Ridley (26), Ronnie Harrison (93), Da’Shawn Hand (114), Anthony Averett (118), JK Scott (72), Shaun Dion Hamilton (197), Bradley Bozeman (215), Bo Scarbrough (236), and Joshua Frazier (246).
3. Nick Saban Wins Seventh National Championship in 2021
The Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t appear in a national title game in 2020 after going 11-2 during the 2019 season, but they returned to form during the 2020 season. They finished with a 13-0 record, the second perfect season of Saban’s career, and won the Rose Bowl for a title shot.
Alabama was matched up against Ohio State for the College Football Championship National Championship Game. It was tied 7-7 after the first quarter, but Alabama outscored Ohio State 45-17 in the following three quarters. It was Saban’s seventh and most recent national title.
2. 100 Straight Wins Against Unranked Opponents in 2021
Nick Saban has a pretty good history against ranked opponents – evidenced by his seven national championships and countless 10-win seasons. Consistently being the best in the nation means you’ll be matched up with a lot of the nation’s other best teams, which Alabama was.
With that said, we shouldn’t dismiss how dominant Saban is against unranked opponents. A 63-14 win against Southern Mississippi on September 25, 2021 notched his 100th straight win against an unranked opponent. The streak was snapped two weeks later against Texas A&M.
1. Nick Saban’s ‘Not Defined By One Game’ Speech in 2022
Last season, the Alabama Crimson Tide finished the year 13-2 with a win in the Cotton Bowl and yet another shot at a national title. They were matched up against the Georgia Bulldogs and despite a 9-3 lead, Alabama lost the game 33-18 after allowing 20 points in the final quarter.
During the postgame press conference, Nick Saban took a moment to praise two of his leaders – linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and quarterback Bryce Young. They didn’t play the best game, but Saban didn’t want that to overshadow what they meant to the team and the effort they gave.
What Does the Future Hold for Nick Saban?
Nick Saban’s recent comments regarding NIL deals won’t damage his legacy, but they might cause him to rethink his recruiting strategy to accommodate the ever-evolving world of college sports. Then again, maybe he won’t – after all, he has a resume that no other head coach has.
So, what does the future hold for Nick Saban? Some people have started to float rumors of retirement, but Saban has denied those rumors – even going as far as questioning those rumors. Why would he retire? Why now? He has more championships to win – a lot more.
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The near future will hold a lot of wins, very little losses, and several championships. He’ll eventually retire, but not before he adds onto his current legacy. And he’ll eventually be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame to cement his legacy among the greatest of all-time.
Nick Saban Signs $93.6 Million Contract Extension and 15 of the Other Highest-Paid Coaches in College Football
The University of Alabama recently approved a contract extension and pay-raise for head coach Nick Saban, placing him atop the list of highest-paid coaches in college football in 2022. He will now coach the Crimson Tide football team through 2030 on an 8-year, $93.6 million contract.
Saban is arguably the greatest college football head coach of all-time. He enters the 2022 season with a 269-67-1 record as head coach since 1990 – including a 178-25 record with Alabama over the past 16 seasons and a 48-16 record with LSU between 2000 and 2004.
Perhaps most impressive is Saban’s ability to shine when it matters most. After leading LSU to a national championship in 2003, Saban has won six more national titles (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2020). His seven championships are the most of any coach in college football history.
Who Are the Highest-Paid Coaches in College Football?
With the new contract extension, Nick Saban is scheduled to make an average of $11.7 million per year over the next eight years – surpassing the 10-year, $112.5 million ($11.2 million per year) contract for Kirby Smart, which was approved by the University of Georgia this offseason.
It makes sense that these two are currently the highest-paid coaches in college football, entering the 2022 season. Saban is 26-2 over the past two seasons with Alabama and Smart is 22-3 with Georgia. Saban won the National Championship in 2020, while Smart won it in 2021.
Both are in line to compete for the championship again this year, but they’ll have to fight hard for it. One thing that’s settled, however, is their status as the highest-paid coaches in college football. Let’s take a look at some of the other highest-paid coaches in college football this year!
16. Steve Sarkisian, $5.45 million per year
Steve Sarkisian is the current head coach of the Texas Longhorns, representing the University of Texas at Austin. The 2021 season was his first with Texas, leading them to a 5-7 overall record and 3-6 record in the Big 12. The team is expected to make improvements this season.
Sarkisian has an illustrious coaching background, which includes stints in both the NCAA and NFL. He was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2019-20, the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons in 2017-8, and head coach at Washington and USC between 2009 and 2015.
15. Chip Kelly, $5.6 million per year
Chip Kelly is the current head coach of the UCLA Bruins, representing the University of California, Los Angeles. After leading them to a disappointing 10-21 record in his first three seasons, he showed improvements in 2021 – finishing the season with an 8-4 overall record.
Kelly enjoyed his greatest success while head coach of the Oregon Ducks between 2009 and 2012. He led the team to a 46-7 record in four years, winning the Rose Bowl in 2011 and Fiesta Bowl in 2012. He was also head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
14. Pat Fitzgerald, $5.748 million per year
Pat Fitzgerald is the head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats, representing Northwestern University since 2006 – he has been with the team since 2001. Over the past 16 seasons, he has led Northwestern to a 109-90 record – including 64-68 in the Big Ten Conference.
The Wildcats are 5-5 in bowl games under Fitzgerald, but are 5-1 since 2012 and are currently on a four-game winning streak in bowl games – dating back to 2016. He led the team to a 10-3 record in 2012, 2015, and 2017, and won the Big Ten West in 2018 and most recently in 2020.
13. James Franklin, $7 million per year
James Franklin is the current head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, representing Penn State University since 2014 – he previously served as head coach at Vanderbilt University between 2011 and 2013. He was also a WR coach for the Green Bay Packers in 2005.
After leading Vanderbilt to a 24-15 record in three seasons – as well as two consecutive bowl wins – Franklin was asked to rebuild the Penn State program. They’ve gone 67-34 since his arrival, including three 11-win seasons and a 3-4 record in bowl games. They went 7-6 in 2021.
12. Jim Harbaugh, $7.05 million per year
Jim Harbaugh is the current head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, representing the University of Michigan since 2015. The former NFL quarterback threw for 26,288 yards and 129 touchdowns in 177 games played. He began his coaching career while still playing in the NFL.
Since 2004, Harbaugh has been head coach at the University of San Diego (29-6), Stanford University (29-21), the San Francisco 49ers (44-19-1), and the University of Michigan (61-24). The team went 12-2 last season, but Harbaugh has gone 0-5 in bowl games since 2016.
11. Lane Kiffin, $7.25 million per year
Lane Kiffin is the current head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, representing the University of Mississippi since 2020. He has a resume that includes head coaching gigs in the NCAA and NFL – including Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic, USC, Tennessee, and the Oakland Raiders.
Things didn’t go well for Kiffin with the Raiders, leading the team to a 5-15 record in 2007 and 2008. He spent one season with Tennessee before leading USC to a 28-15 record in four years. He then led Florida Atlantic to a 26-13 record and Ole Miss to a 15-8 record – 10-3 in 2021.
10. Jimbo Fisher, $7.5 million per year
Jimbo Fisher is the current head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies, representing Texas A&M University since 2018. He was previously the head coach at Florida State between 2010 and 2017, where he led the team to an 83-23 record – including a national championship in 2013.
Fisher has yet to lead the Aggies to a 10-win season – after doing so six times (and a perfect 14-0 record in 2013) with the Seminoles. Still, the Aggies are 34-14 under his control and 3-0 in bowl games. After a successful recruiting campaign this offseason, they’re set for the future.
9. Mario Cristobal, $8 million per year
Mario Cristobal is the current head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, entering his first year with the University of Miami (FL). He previously led the Oregon Ducks to a 35-13 record between 2017 and 2021. He signed a 10-year, $80 million contract with Miami in December of 2021.
Cristobal was also the head coach at Florida International University between 2007 and 2012, but the team went just 27-47 under his leadership. He is expected to do great things in Miami, especially considering he had the 16th-ranked college recruiting class this past offseason.
8. Dabo Swinney, $8.370 million per year
Dabo Swinney is the current head coach of the Clemson Tigers, representing Clemson University since 2009. He was a position coach at Alabama between 1993 and 2000 (mainly with wide receivers and tight ends) before earning similar roles with Clemson up until 2008.
Swinney has a 150-36 record since 2008, establishing himself as one of the greatest coaches in college football. He has won at least 10 games in each of the past 11 seasons, including 14-1 twice, and 15-0 in 2018. Clemson has won two national titles (2016, 2018) under his control.
7. David Shaw, $8.925 million per year
David Shaw is the current head coach of the Stanford Cardinal, representing Stanford University since 2011 – he was originally the team’s OC between 2007 and 2010. Shaw also enjoyed a nine-year stint in the NFL as an assistant coach on the offensive side of the ball.
Stanford was in good hands between 2011 and 2018, going 82-26 in that span – including 5-3 in bowl games. Things haven’t been as smooth lately, going just 11-19 over the past three years. Still, the Cardinal are 93-45 under the leadership of Shaw and have won the Pac-12 three times.
6. Ryan Day, $9.5 million per year
Ryan Day is the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, representing Ohio State University since 2018 – he has been with the team since 2017. Prior to that, he was a position coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Temple, Boston College, and New Hampshire.
As acting head coach in 2018, Day led the Buckeyes to a 3-0 record. Since then, the team has gone 13-1 in 2019, 7-1 in 2020, and 11-2 in 2021. They’re 2-1 in bowl games, including wins at the 2021 Sugar Bowl and 2022 Rose Bowl, but lost to Alabama in the 2021 national title game.
5. Mel Tucker, $9.5 million per year
Mel Tucker is the current head coach of the Michigan State Spartans, representing Michigan State University since 2020 – he was previously the head coach at the University of Colorado in 2019, leading the team to a 5-7 record. He also has a 2-3 record with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite going just 2-5 in his first season with the Spartans, Tucker turned things around rather quickly – finishing the 2021 campaign with an 11-2 record. They defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 31-21 in the Peach Bowl and are expected to be just as good, if not better in 2022.
4. Brian Kelly, $9.5 million per year
Brian Kelly is the current head coach of the LSU Tigers, entering his first season with the team after an illustrious 12-year coaching career at Notre Dame since 2010. He was also the head coach at Cincinnati, Central Michigan, and Grand Valley State between 1991 and 2009.
Kelly has a 263-96-2 record as head coach in the NCAA – including a 92-39 record at Notre Dame, 34-6 record at Cincinnati, and 118-35-2 record at Grand Valley State. Despite having two Division II national championships under his belt, he has never won one at the D1 level.
3. Lincoln Riley, $10+ million per year
Lincoln Riley is the current head coach of the USC Trojans, entering his first season with the team after an impressive five-year stint with the Oklahoma Sooners. He led the team to a 55-10 record in that span, including four-straight Big 12 Conference titles between 2017 and 2020.
Despite all the regular season success under Riley, the Sooners went just 1-3 in bowl games under his control and failed to make an appearance at a national championship game. That’s something he’d love to change with USC, though it won’t be easy turning this team around.
2. Kirby Smart, $11.25 million per year
Kirby Smart is the current head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, representing the University of Georgia since 2016 – he had previous stints with Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Valdosta State, and even the Miami Dolphins. Needless to say, his first stint as head coach is going very well.
Since taking over in 2016, Smart has led the Bulldogs to a 66-15 record – including a 14-1 record in 2021 en route to their first national championship under Smart. The team is 5-1 in bowl games since 2016 and almost had another national title in 2017 – but they lost to Alabama.
1. Nick Saban, $11.7 million per year
Nick Saban is the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the University of Alabama since 2007 – he was also head coach at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins. With a 15-17 record in the NFL, most of his success has come at the college level.
Saban has a 178-25 record with Alabama, as well as a 48-16 record with LSU, a 34-24-1 record with Michigan State, and 9-2 record in Toledo. He has won seven national championships – six with Alabama and one with LSU – becoming one of two coaches to win a title with two teams.
Which College Football Coaches Are Due for a Raise?
With the latest contracts signed by Nick Saban and Kirby Smart – as well as Lincoln Riley, who signed his contract in November 2021 – we can expect to see a trickle down effect with the other highest-paid coaches in college football listed above. In a way, they’re all due for a raise.
Other coaches (not listed above) that are due for a pay raise soon include Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes, Luke Fickell of the Cincinnati Bearcats, Mike Gundy of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kirk Firentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and Mark Stoops of the Kentucky Wildcats.
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With college players now making money through name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals, you can expect coaches to continue to demand more money in the near future. Pretty soon, they might be making as much, if not more, than coaches in the National Football League (NFL).
- 1 Nick Saban Signs $93.6 Million Contract Extension and 15 of the Other Highest-Paid Coaches in College Football
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