He likes cookies for breakfast. He keeps Little Debbie’s pastries in business. He dances for his team. He tells jokes, rumor has it.
And that’s about all that’s sweet about Nick Saban, the University of Alabama‘s reigning grump, also known as college football’s finest coach.
Saban won his fifth title Monday night with his gutsy onside call with the score tied at 21 in the fourth quarter. The Tide went on to win, 45-40, over Clemson.
It was Saban’s fifth national title, four of them against previously unbeaten teams, but it was the Tide’s most difficult. Still, winning is winning, and dynasties are dynasties.
The victory is sure to start the comparison bowl between Saban and former Tide coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who won six. But for Saban, the journey is much harder. These days, teams play more games, and they cannot split titles, and they cannot win a title in a season they lose their bowl games. Bryant could do all of that in those days where the champion was often the team that could shout the loudest.
These days, more teams are in the running for the title, and rosters have limits, and underclassmen turn to pro regularly. Athletes work year-round attending specialty camps. Yeah, it’s tougher.
Then, there are players such as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson to complete with. Watson was amazing Monday night, throwing for 405 yards and rushing for 73 to keep the Tigers in the game. It was the onside kick, plus Alabama’s big plays in the final period, that made the difference.
Through it all was Saban, a demanding coach whose teams always seem to be in the hunt. Saban has finished in the top 10 seven straight seasons. There is something hard about Saban, something unyielding. Pretty good never seems good enough. Odds are, he’ll be there next season, too.
That’s the thing about college football. It keeps getting harder.
Not as hard as Saban, however.
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