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Nick Saban

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Nick Saban Alabama

Nick Saban led Alabama to a national title in 2009.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Updated June 20, 2011
He's controversial and often cranky, but there's no denying this much: Nick Saban is one of the most successful coaches in college football history.

Though Saban first made his name in college as the head coach at Michigan State, where he served from 1995 to 1999 and compiled an overall record of 23-16-1 (he also served one year as coach of the Toledo Rockets), he truly arrived starting in 2000, when he took over at LSU. After heading the Tigers to a 10-3 mark and Sugar Bowl win in his second season, he went on to win a national title with his 13-1 squad in 2003. One year later, he left LSU—and college football—to take the head job with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.

The NFL experiment failed (he was just 15-17 during his stint with the Dolphins) and Saban returned to the SEC in 2007—this time as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. After a 7-6 mark in his first season and a 12-2 record in his second, Saban won his second national title in 2009, leading the Tide to a perfect 14-0 season.

That national title propelled Saban into truly elite company. Only two coaches have ever won national titles at two different schools: Saban, and the great Paul “Bear” Bryant.

As of the end of the 2010 season, Saban’s overall record as a college head coach was a sterling 134-53-1.

At the same time, Saban was coming under increased criticism for his use of so-called “oversigning,” a practice in which coaches sign more players than they can actually carry on scholarship. Critics say the practice is unethical, but Saban and others say it allows them greater flexibility in managing their rosters. In 2011, the SEC enacted tougher rules intended to limit oversigning.

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