The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

August 11, 2013

Bama's Saban bellying up to the Bear

— In Alabama, there is Paul Bryant, and there is everyone else. To even suggest that another football coach could be compared to the Bear is practically sacrilegious.

To fans of the Crimson Tide, he's revered like a family patriarch.

In that way, Nick Saban could probably never match Bryant. But when it comes to producing championship football teams and dominating the sport, Saban is rapidly gaining on the Bear after leading Bama to three of the past four BCS titles in a hyper-competitive, megabucks, huddles-are-optional era.

In the process, he's adding another floor to the house that Bear helped build during a quarter-century in Tuscaloosa.

"There's no question that the '70s were a golden era," said former Tide lineman Fred Sington Jr. "Really and truly, this is probably the brightest era that's been at Alabama football. My father played for coach (Wallace) Wade, I played for coach Bryant, my brother played for coach Bryant. I don't care who you played for, right now this is the epitome of Alabama football."

Rise of the Tide

It took 24 years, eight head coaches and five losing seasons, but the Bear might finally have met his match in Tuscaloosa with Saban's hiring in 2007.

The Tide has won 89.7 percent (61-7) of its games over the past five seasons, with two SEC titles and three national championships. It's shaping up as comparable to Bryant's seven-year run from 1973-79 when Alabama went 76-8 — a 90.4-percent clip — and collected six league and three national titles, including two Associated Press crowns.

Saban hasn't been quite so untouchable in a conference with a seven-year monopoly on the national title, but he's showing no signs of slowing down either.

The Tide is considered the favorite to win a third straight national crown with talent flooding in. Alabama athletic director Bill Battle, who played for Bryant's first national championship team in 1961, calls it an unprecedented run.

"What coach Bryant did was unprecedented at the time, I think," Battle said earlier this summer. "This is a different time. I don't think that competition has ever been greater in the history of college football than it is today. There are a lot of people that are putting a lot of money into football and all sports, as you read about the arms race.

"That hasn't happened in the past as much as it has today."

Saban is just halfway to Bryant's six national titles at Alabama, albeit in only six years. He led LSU to the BCS title — AP crowned Southern California — in 2004. That gives Saban four titles in his last eight seasons in college, broken up by a much less successful two-year NFL stint with the Miami Dolphins.

Notre Dame's Frank Leahy and Southern California's John McKay join him as the only other coaches with four national championships in the poll era, dating back to 1936. Leahy and Nebraska's Tom Osborne also won it all three times in four years.

Text Only
Sports
  • CEO: Sterling staying on a 'disaster' for Clippers

    Coach Doc Rivers has said he'll resign from the Los Angeles Clippers if Donald Sterling remains owner, the team's interim CEO testified, saying such a move would be a "disaster" for the franchise.

    July 23, 2014

  • Survey finds sharp increase in teen use of HGH

    In a confidential 2013 survey of 3,705 high school students, 11 percent reported using synthetic HGH at least once — up from about 5 percent in the four preceding annual surveys.

    July 23, 2014

  • CEO: Clippers coach to quit if Sterling stays

    CEO Richard Parsons testified at a trial to determine whether Sterling's wife, Shelly, can sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the NBA looks to force Donald Sterling from the league over racist statements.

    July 23, 2014

  • dunk.jpg Tedford, Potts take on the South

    While the North team has a lengthy winning streak in the basketball series, Tedford and Potts will face a tough battle against three players already committed to SEC schools on the South team.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arkansas State player earns conference honors

    Qushaun Lee led conference in tackles with 134 —the sixth most tackles in conference history and most by an Arkansas State player since 1991.

    July 22, 2014

  • Clippers' future on line as probate trial resumes

    The future of the Los Angeles Clippers is closer to decision as testimony resumes Monday in a probate trial over whether a deal negotiated by Donald Sterling's estranged wife to sell the team for $2 billion is authorized under a Sterling family trust.

    Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then tried to revoke consent in spite of a signed letter instructing his wife Shelly Sterling to sell for the highest price she could get.

    July 21, 2014

  • Tuesday could be time to 'play ball' for Biloxi

    July 21, 2014

  • Manchester United adds Hernandez for U.S. tour

    Javier Hernandez played for Mexico in the World Cup, appearing in all four of El Tri's games and scoring against Croatia.

    July 20, 2014

  • AP sources: Bon Jovi part of group eyeing Bills

    Jon Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but never specifically mentioned the Bills.

    July 19, 2014

  • Former NFLers: Painkillers easy to get up to 2012

    The NFL is not aware of "any DEA subpoenas or investigations into club practices," spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email Friday.

    July 18, 2014

Photos


Poll

Do you believe America will ever make another manned flight to the moon or another planet?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee