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Countdown to kickoff: 14 years ago, college football was forever changed

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No one could have possibly envisioned what was to come when Nick Saban arrived at Alabama.

Fourteen years ago, Alabama AD Mal Moore famously tried to hire Rich Rodriguez to replace Mike Shula as the Tide’s head coach. For whatever reason, wife Rita not wanting to live in Tuscaloosa, the news leaking before Rich had a chance to speak with his team in Morgantown, cold feet or West Virginia simply ponying up to keep him around, that moment became one of the most important in college football history.

Nearly a month after Rodriguez said no, Moore finally convinced Saban to leave the Miami Dolphins for Alabama. Moore famously told Saban if didn’t say yes; he couldn’t go back to Alabama.

“I think I’ll just have them take me down to Cuba,” Saban recalled Moore saying years later.

After the deal was complete, Saban, his wife Terry and Moore jumped on a plane from Miami to Tuscaloosa for the new coach’s introductory press conference. Moore later told Neinas as they were in the air, Saban turned to his new boss and made only one promise.

“I just want you to know you’ve hired a horseshit football coach,” Saban told Moore. “But nobody will out-recruit me.”

We all know what has happened since. Nick Saban tied Bear Bryant’s record at Alabama with his sixth national title, and holds the all-time record with seven overall including his one at LSU. Alabama has gone 165-23 under Saban, including an absurd 96-15 in SEC play. The Saban era is the greatest dynasty in the long history of the sport.

And it nearly didn’t happen.

SEC Shorts managed to find the one Rich Rod fan left in Tuscaloosa.

What might have been, eh?

We are now 14 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.