Nick Saban

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Nick Saban
Nick Saban
TitleHead Coach
CollegeThe University of Alabama
Team Record16–6
Career1990, 1995-2004, 07-present
B-dateOctober 31, 1951
B-placeFairmont, West Virginia
Career Highlights
Overall107–48–1 (NCAA), 15–17–0 (NFL)
Bowl Games9 (4-5)
  • 2003 AP National Coach of the Year
  • 2003 AP SEC Coach of the Year
  • 2003 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award
  • 2003 Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
  • 2001 Birmingham News SEC Coach of the Year
  • 2003 National Championship
  • 2001, 2003 - SEC Championship
Prior to Coaching
1970–1972Kent State
PositionDefensive back
Coaching Record
  • 2007-present - Alabama
  • 2005-2006 - Miami Dolphins (NFL)
  • 2000-2004 - LSU
  • 1995-99 - Michigan State
  • 1991-94 - Cleveland Browns - DC
  • 1990 - Toledo
  • 1988-89 - Houston Oilers - DB
  • 1983-87 - Michigan State - DB/DC
  • 1982 - Navy - Def. Asst.
  • 1980-81 - Ohio State - Def. Asst.
  • 1978-79 - West Virginia - Def. Asst.
  • 1977 - Syracuse - Def. Asst.
  • 1975-76 - Kent State - Def. Asst.
  • 1973-74 - Kent State - Grad. Asst.

Nick Saban (born Nicholas Lou Saban on October 31, 1951, in Fairmont, West Virginia) is the head football coach of the The University of Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA college football tournament. Saban has held numerous jobs both at the collegiate and professional ranks and has been credited to turning around several football programs. He has previously mentored Toledo, Michigan State, and LSU in the NCAA and the Miami Dolphins in the NFL before returning to the collegiate level in a move that drew some controversy from the media and his former team. In 2007, he accepted an 8-year contract worth $32 million to coach LSU's SEC Western rival, Alabama, a deal that made him the highest paid college football coach in the nation at that time.


Personal Life

Nick, who's of Croat origin but grew up in Fairmont, is married to West Virginia native Terry Constable-Saban and has two children with her, namely Nicholas and Kristin. He is cousins with Lou Saban, who played collegiately at Indiana amd was a former two-time All-Big Ten football player. Lou has had head coaching stints with the Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots in the NFL.

Nick has co-authored a couple of books, the "Tiger Turnaround" in 2001 and "How Good Do You Want to Be" in 2005. The former was about his experiences in his first two seasons as head coach of LSU while the latter was about real-life principles for success at work and at home. Nick and his family have also been involved in several community programs. He has contributed in the fundraising for LSU's Student-Athlete Academic Center and has supported supported several charitable and civic projects in Louisiana. One of the Sabans major contributions was with the Children's Miracle Network where the couple raised more than $100,000 a year for children.

One other notable projects by the Sabans is the Nick's Kids Fund which the family started at Michigan State and have continued in Tuscaloosa. The project aims to tend to disadvantaged children and have raised and distributed more than $650,000 to different charities. The Sabans latest contribution is their $1 million gift to benefit the University of Alabama's first-generation scholarship program.

Playing Career

Nick is an alumnus of the Kent State University in Kent, Ohio where he earned a bachelor's degree in business and a master's degree in sports administration in 1975. He played for three seasons for the Golden Flashes as a defensive back for Dave Puddington (1970) and Don James (1971-72).

Assistant Coaching Career

Saban has served as an assistant for several football programs, including Kent State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, and Michigan State. After graduating in 1973, he served as a graduate assistant for two seasons under James before being promoted as a defensive assistant from 1975-76 under new head coach Dennis Fitzgerald. He moved to Syracuse for a year to become a defensive assistant to Frank Maloney before returning to his home town of West Virginia to become a defensive assistant to Frank Cignetti's Mountaineers. In 1980, he headed for Columbus to become a defensive assistant to Earle Bruce at Ohio State for two seasons then had his last stint as defensive asst. in 1982 for Gary Tranquill at Navy. In 1983, Saban served as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator under George Perles at Michigan State where he helped the Spartans earn three bowl game berths in five seasons as well as winning the Big Ten title in 1987 and defeating Southern Cal at the 1988 Rose Bowl. Under Saban, the Spartans only allowed 61.2 rushing yards per game (#1 in the nation) and gave up only an average of 12.4 points per game (#2 in the country).

His success at MSU prompted the Houston Oilers to hire him as a defensive backs coach under Jerry Glanville. It didn't take long for him to make an impact in his first coaching stint in the pros as his secondary tied for fourth in the AFC in 1988 with 21 interceptions and tied for second in the conference in 1989 with 22.

Coaching Career


In 1990, Saban returned to the collegiate ranks when he got his first head coaching job at Toledo to replace Dan Simrell. In only his first year, Saban showed no jitters as he led the Rockets to its first 9 win season in seven years, finishing the year with a 9-2 record to earn a share of the Mid-American Conference championship. His only two losses that year were by a combined margin of five points (1-point loss to Central Michigan and 4-point loss to Navy). That year, the Rockets improved to 12th in total defense (284.8 yards) and 16th in scoring defense (16.2 points).

Cleveland Browns (NFL)

After just a year in Toledo, Saban returned to the NFL to be the defensive coordinator for the coach Bill Belichick's Cleveland Browns. Prior to his arrival, the Browns allowed the most points in the league at 462, with opponents scoring 32 passing TDs and 21 rushing TDs in 1990. In his first season alone, the Browns have trimmed those numbers by allowing only 298 points, 20 passing TDs, and 12 rushing TDs in 1991. In each of his four seasons at Cleveland, Saban's defense never permitted an average of more than 19.2 points per game and by 1994, the Browns have allowed only 204 points which ranked as the fewest in the league and the sixth-fewest points surrendered in NFL history at the time.

Michigan State

In 1995, Saban returned to East Lansing but this time, as a head coach for the Spartans who did not have a winning season since 1990 and were 0-11 a year before his arrival. In his first year, Saban directed MSU to a 6-5-1 record with a berth at the Independence Bowl which the team went on to lose, 26-45. Michigan State would go on to three consecutive bowl games in Saban's first three seasons, but would lose to Stanford at the Sun Bowl and to Washington at the Aloha Bowl. In 1998, Saban's team produced upsets over Notre Dame and top-ranked Ohio State but would still wound-up with an even 6-6 mark and finish the season without a bowl invitation after losing three heart-breaking games, no thanks to the team's crucial turnovers, defensive lapses, and special-teams misplays. In 1999, the Spartans had a three-game turnaround to finish the season at 9-2 but unforunately, the two setbacks to Purdue and Wisconsin cost MSU a chance to play at a BCS bowl. After the final game of the regular season, a 35-28 win over Penn State, Saban abruptly resigned to accept another head coaching job at LSU vacated by Gerry DiNardo. The Spartans wound up with a 10-2 mark (after Bobby Williams piloted MSU to a Citrus Bowl win over Florida) at the end of '99, which turned out to be the the best season in terms of wins since 1965 while reaching their highest ranking since the 1966 team.


Saban was named as the Tigers' head coach on November 30, 1999 with an undaunting task of solidifying a program that has endured seven losing seasons during the 1990's. In his first year, LSU sprung from two consecutive losing seasons to post an 8-4 record which include victories over Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Alabama, and capped by a 31-20 win over No.15 Georgia Tech at the Peach Bowl. The only drawbacks this year were the lopsided losses suffered at the hands of Auburn and Florida as well as a 10-13 upset loss to UAB. In 2001, LSU finished with a 10-3 mark highlighted by an impressive six-game winning streak to claim the program's first outright SEC title since 1986 after a 31-20 rout of no.2 Tennessee at the SEC Championship game. The team then closed out its remarkable run with a convincing 47-34 win over Big Ten champion Illinois in the Sugar Bowl. It was the Tigers' first victory in a New Year's Day bowl game since 1968. In 2002, the Tigers entered the season with very high expectations but raised some doubts after the team lost to Virginia Tech by 18 in the opener. LSU managed to erase these doubts momentarily courtesy of a six-game winning streak. An injury to quarterback Matt Mauck however hampered the Tigers' run, as Saban's boys lost four of the last six games including their second straight New Year's Day bowl at the hands of Texas at the Cotton Bowl.

The team regrouped in 2003 to manufacture one of the most dominating performances in school history with wins over defending SEC champion and previously unbeaten Georgia, against Arkansas for the SEC West title, and another win over Georgia to claim its second SEC championship. LSU was picked to play top-ranked Oklahoma at the Sugar Bowl to determine the 2003 BCS National Champions. In that game, the Tigers allowed the Sooners only 154 yards of total offense enroute to a 21-14 win to claim the school's second national championship. That year, the Tiger offense produced a school-record 475 points (33.9 points per game) while the defense, who ranked first in the nation in points allowed per game (11.0) and total defense (252.0 yards per game), held 13 of 14 opponents to fewer than 20 points. In 2004, despite losing 13 players from the national championship squad to the NFL, LSU still managed to field in a formidable team equipped with the SEC's best rushing offense (200.7 yards per game), and the nation's third-best total defense (249.9 yards per game) and passing defense (145.4 yards per game). That team swept its last six games of the regular season to advance to an unprecedented fourth consecutive January bowl game, only to lose to Iowa, 25-30, at the Capital One Bowl. The 2004 season turned out to be Saban's last at LSU, moving out of Baton Rouge with a composite record of 48-16.

Miami Dolphins (NFL)

In late December of 2004, Saban joined the Miami Dolphins franchise and was officially signed to a five-year contract through 2009 on December 27, 2004 to become the sixth head coach in Dolphin history. He took over from the team that went 4-12 in 2004 and began his campaign with a 34-10 victory over the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins however would go on to lose seven of their next nine games to fall to 3-7. The team did manage to turn things around late in the season, winning their last six games (longest winning streak by any team in the NFL at the end of the 2005 season, and the 3rd biggest turnaround in the NFL) including the final three over AFC East opponents. He capped the season by leading the Dolphins to a win over the New England Patriots but narrowly missed the playoffs with a 9-7 finish in his inaugural year.

With a strong finish the previous year, Miami entered the 2006 season with high expectations. Unfortunately, the Dolphins could not live up to it due primarily to the loss of quarterback Daunte Culpepper to a knee injury. Miami had another slow start, going 1-6 in their first seven outings. Like the previous season, the Dolphins got rejuvinated late in the season with four straight wins highlighted by a monumental win over the previously unbeaten Chicago Bears. They were once again on the brink of a playoff berth until they only won one of their next four games to end the season with 6-10 record, Saban's first losing record as a head coach. He finished his two-year career at Miami with a 15-17 record.


With the dismissal of Mike Shula as the head coach of the Crimson Tide On November of 2006, rumors point to Saban as Alabama's #1 choice to take over the football program. But Saban refused to discuss the issue while the NFL season was still ongoing. After the Dolphins' regular-season ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Saban eventually met with Alabama officials on January 1, 2007. Two days later, Saban was officially named as the 27th head football coach in UA history.

Saban opened his Alabama career with three consecutive wins over Western Carolina, Vanderbilt, and No.16 Arkansas, becoming the fifth Alabama coach since 1900 to start his first season 3–0. But the team failed to sustain its momentum, losing six of their last nine outings, including a shocking upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe in Tuscaloosa to finish the regular season with a 6-6 record. Despite the losing skid, Alabama earned a bowl berth and edged out Colorado, 30-24, at the Independence Bowl. Bama sported a 7-6 record at the end of the year, only the second winning season for the Tide in the last five years.

During the offseason in 2008, Alabama had a signing class that was rated as one of the best in the country. As the season came along, Alabama surprised many by starting the season with a dominant performance over 9th ranked Clemson. The Tide continued to climb into the rankings as the season progressed by defeating teams one after another. They started out ranked 24th in the AP Polls but climbed to as high as #2 in the AP rankings and #4 in the coaches polls by week five after defeating #3 Georgia. Thanks to a five-touchdown victory over Arkansas State and the loss of top-ranked Texas to Texas Tech, Alabama moved to #1 in the AP, USA Today, Harris Interactive, and BCS Rankings. The feat marked the first time since the 1980 that Alabama held the top spot during the regular season.


Nick Saban talks about the Alabama job. (from ESPN)


Year School Record Conference Standing Bowl Notes
Toledo Rockets (Mid-American Conference) (1990)
1990 Toledo 9-2 7-1 1st   MAC co-champion
Toledo 9-2 7-1  
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1995 — 1999)
1995 Michigan State 6-5-1 4-3-1 5th Independence Bowl (L)
1996 Michigan State 6-6 5-3 6th Sun Bowl (L)  
1997 Michigan State 7-5 4-4 6th Aloha Bowl (L)  
1998 Michigan State 6-6 4-4 6th    
1999 Michigan State 9-2 6-2 3rd   Finished with a #7 ranking on the AP/Coaches Poll.
Michigan State 34-24-1 23-16-1 Resigned on 11.30.99.
LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (2000 – 2004)
2000 LSU 8-4 5-3 3rd (West) Peach Bowl (W) Finished #22 on the AP Poll.
2001 LSU 10-3 6-3 1st Sugar Bowl (W) Finished #7 on AP and #8 on Coaches Polls. SEC champion.
2002 LSU 8-5 5-3 1st-T (West) Cotton Bowl (L) SEC-West champion.
2003 LSU 13-1 8-1 1st Sugar Bowl (W) Finished #2 on AP & #1 on Coaches Polls. National Champions.
2004 LSU 9-3 6-2 2nd (West) Capital One Bowl (L) Finished #16 on AP/Coaches Polls.
LSU 48-16 30-12  
Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (2007 – present)
2007 Alabama 7-6 4-4 3rd-T (West) Independence Bowl (W)  
2008 Alabama 9-0 5-0      
Alabama 16-6 9-4  
Total 107-48-1  


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