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Random Thoughts From Around the Country: Saban Legacy

Nick Saban's legend grows

Streeter Lecka

I am not a big believer in "coaching trees". They are a bit convoluted and guys move around so much these days it is difficult to evaluate it properly. The Nick Saban critics/haters/trolls love to bring up the failures of guys like Derek Dooley (I am pretty sure you can blame this one on Vince) and Will Muschamp. However, it is interesting how this season has unfolded with the emergence of some pretty high-profile "Sabanites":

Mark Dantonio celebrates the Big Ten Championship. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

Mark Dantonio

Dantonio was defensive backs coach under Saban from 1995 to 1999 and stayed on one more season after Saban left for LSU. His time in East Lansing surely helped him get the head coaching job in 2007 and he says as much.

"I wouldn't be where I am without Nick Saban,'' Dantonio said. "I have the utmost respect for Nick Saban; he brought me from Kansas to MSU and into the Big Ten.''

This year, Dantonio led the #4 Spartans to the school's first 12-win season at 12-1 (8-0) including a delightful 34–24 win over #2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game earning a trip to the Rose Bowl.

He is 63–29 overall at MSU and 38–18 in the Big Ten.

Jimbo Fisher celebrates the ACC Championship. (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

Jimbo Fisher

When Nick Saban won his first national title at LSU in the 2003 season, the man by his side as offensive coordinator was Jimbo Fisher.

If you have not looked at the internet in the last year, know that Fisher now has the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles in the BCS Championship Game.

Fisher is 44–10 (26–6) in four seasons at FSU with three ACC Championships and 3-0 in bowl games (and counting).

* It is interesting to note that if FSU, Alabama, and Michigan State all win their bowl games in impressive fashion, they could possibly finish ranked 1, 2, 3.

2013 Scoring Defense

Rank Team G TDs Opp XP 2PT Opp DXP Opp FGM Opp Saf Pts Avg
1 Florida State 13 17 16 0 0 7 0 139 10.7
2 Alabama 12 17 16 0 0 6 0 136 11.3
3 Louisville 12 17 17 0 0 10 0 149 12.4
4 Michigan State 13 19 18 0 0 11 0 165 12.7


And on that subject...

Jim McElwain

I don't know about you, but Colorado State kind of feels like Alabama's little brother - but the GOOD kind of little brother. They are the kind of kid brother who may not be as big or athletic as you are but works hard and has a big heart. You want to root for them and be proud of them. Saturday's New Mexico Bowl was one of those moments.

Jim McElwain's Rams took possession of the ball at their own 28 down 45-30 and 4:17 to play. 85 seconds later, CSU finds the end zone to cut the deficit to 8.

On the ensuing drive, Washington State is running clock while McElwain uses up the last of their timeouts. WSU gets a first down and it's not looking good for the green and gold. However, the Wazzu running back puts the ball on the turf on his own 33 and Colorado State has new life.

CSU's Kapri Bibbs (27-169) runs in his third TD of the game followed by a Donnell Alexander two-point conversion on the ol' Statue of Liberty play that was initially ruled short of the goal line but correctly overturned. We've got a tie game.

Inexplicably with 27 seconds left, WSU fumbles the kickoff return. A few plays later, CSU kicker Jared Roberts hits a 41-yard field goal as time expires. Colorado State 48 Washington State 45.

McElwain led the Rams to an 8-6 record in 2013 - their best record since 2002. Way to go, kid!


Southern Cal 45 Fresno State 20 LAS VEGAS BOWL - I love it when these little teams get their just due. Or maybe it's "just go" -as in just go away. The Trojans with their third head coach of the season pretty much dominated David Carr's li'l brother.

San Diego State 49 Buffalo 24 FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL - Was this game really necessary?

Louisiana-Lafayette 24 Tulane 21 NEW ORLEANS BOWL - See above. Keep an eye on the Cajuns' head coach Mark Hudspeth. He might be looking for a job upgrade. The former North Alabama coach has had three straight 9-4 seasons at La-Laf.


All games on ESPN = All Your Bowl Games Are Belong to Us!

Monday, December 23
BEEF 'O' BRADY'S BOWL - Ohio vs. East Carolina 1:00PM / 2:00 PM

Tuesday, December 24
HAWAII BOWL - Boise State vs. Oregon State 7:00PM / 8:00 PM

Thursday, December 26
LITTLE CAESARS BOWL - Pitt vs. Bowling Green 5:00PM / 6:00 PM
POINSETTIA BOWL - Utah State vs. N. Illinois 8:30 PM / 9:30 PM

Friday, December 27
MILITARY BOWL - Marshall vs. Maryland 1:30 PM / 2:30 PM
TEXAS BOWL - Syracuse vs. Minnesota 5:00PM / 6:00 PM
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL - BYU vs. Washington 8:30 PM / 9:30 PM - My money is on District 11.

Saturday, December 28
PINSTRIPE BOWL - Rutgers vs. Notre Dame 11:00AM / 12:00 PM
BELK BOWL - Cincinnati vs. North Carolina 2:20 PM / 3:20 PM
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL - Miami vs. Louisville 5:45 PM / 6:45 PM
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL - Michigan vs. Kansas State 9:15 PM / 10:15 PM


* LATEST NEWS: As reported by RBR two months ago, LaMichael Fanning is now officially transferring to Jacksonville State. Fanning had been suspended most of the season for violation of team rules.

The sophomore defensive tackle recorded three assist tackles in the four games he participated in this season: Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Georgia State, and Kentucky. He will be immediately eligible to play at JSU as a redshirt junior.

Sadly, he will probably be best remembered for his body slam of a Mizzou running back in 2012.


Also if you haven't heard, running back Alvin Kamara and Jack LB Xzavier Dickson have been suspended for the Sugar Bowl. Dickson had been an effective part of the defense for most of the season. Kamara, who has been redshirting this his freshman season, is on very thin ice as this is his second time being suspended.