In terms of “Coach of the Year” awards, Nick Saban has been the victim of his own success. When looking at his entire body of work for the last decade, however, USA Today came to the only logical conclusion and tabbed him as their Coach of the Decade across all sports, meaning that he even bested his buddy Bill Belichick. From the article:
But despite coaching in an atmosphere of constant upheaval, Saban piled up the wins. Double-digit victories every year, and six seasons with only one loss. This year will be the first since the College Football Playoff began in 2014-15 that Alabama does not qualify.
A more telling stat: This will be the first time Alabama won’t play for the title since that first year of the playoff, when the Crimson Tide lost to Ohio State in the semifinals.
There are plenty of good coaches across all sports, and a few truly great ones. In this decade, though, none was better than Saban.
Who else could possibly be in consideration for such an honor than the coach who won four national titles over that span?
Saban lost only 15 games over the last ten seasons against 123 wins, an absurd 89% winning percentage. Alabama was ranked #1 at some point in every season of the decade, and finished there in four of the ten seasons. Despite this success, he was selected for only two major national Coach of the Year awards, the Bobby Dodd in 2014 and Walter Camp in 2018. The fact that he was voted SEC Coach of the Year only once over that period is even more ridiculous.
The justification for all of those snubs was the elite talent on the roster that produced 83 draft picks starting in 2010, which criminally undersells the most critical part of coaching in college: player development.
Saban’s famed “Process” is almost solely focused on getting each individual to do the things necessary to improve on a daily basis, and not just where football is concerned. Mothers send their babies to Saban because he will make sure they get an education, as evidenced by the strong performance in Academic Progress Rate. Saban is most proud of the family atmosphere among former players, so many of whom have stayed around the program and aided in mentoring the next crop of young superstars.
Saban maintains that he wants to coach for a long time, making any reflection on his accomplishments premature. He currently boasts the #2 recruiting class in the country for the 2020 cycle and shows no signs of slowing down. Still, it’s nice to see him get some well deserved national recognition.