Nick Saban’s Legacy: What Beating Clemson Would Mean

    What a win would mean for Nick Saban. Would it make him the greatest coach of all-time?

    January 10, 2016

    Nick Saban’s legacy: What will it be after Monday night’s championship game showdown against the Clemson Tigers?


    E-mail Rich Cirminiello |
    Follow me … @RichCirminiello

    This national championship game isn’t about Nick Saban. Then again, it kind of is, because all things in Tuscaloosa eventually lead back to Saban.

    Saban would bristle visibly at the mere suggestion that he’ll be at the center of the college football universe over the next seven days. Cue the eye rolls, incredulous exhales and outbursts in the direction of anyone spouting off such foolishness.

    Saban, though, is college football’s Coach K, an old-schooler remaining at the top of his profession at an age when most Americans are retiring. And with a win on Monday night, he’d match Krzyzewski’s five national titles.

    Saban doesn’t need to defeat Clemson to cement his legacy. His place in history was solidified years ago. However, a fifth national championship would elevate him into a new stratosphere among the pantheon of great college football coaches, and all alone in second place behind Bear Bryant.

    Plus, Saban will have done it at the age of 64, a statement rebound after being denied the past two seasons by Auburn and Ohio State, respectively.

    Heresy, sure, but it could be argued—rather persuasively—that Saban’s four national championships are even more impressive than the Bear’s six. He’s coached 18 fewer seasons than Bryant and at a uniquely challenging time for head coaches.

    With all due reverence to Bryant, he never had to deal with scholarship limits, mass exoduses to the NFL, rampant parity, entitled athletes or the nonstop crush of traditional and new media.

    Monday will be about the matchups, as No. 1 Clemson faces No. 2 Bama. Like it or not, it’ll also be about Saban, whose rescue of Bama almost a decade ago has him on the precipice of some heady comparisons. If the Tide wins, prepare to take sides on the debate about the greatest coaches in college football history.

    A week before kickoff, Saban is already in the discussion, the modern-day envoy on the proverbial Mt. Rushmore of coaches alongside the likes of Knute Rockne, Tom Osborne … and, of course, the Bear.

    MORE: 5 Reasons Alabama Will Beat Clemson

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