Saban supplanted Bryant as best college FB coach in 2017

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

Nick Saban did not need a win over Ohio State to become the greatest college football coach ever.

In my opinion, Saban surpassed Bear Bryant after the Crimson Tide won their sixth national title three years ago.

We all know how that one ended: DeVonta Smith’s walk-off touchdown reception from the strong-armed Tua Tagovailoa to sink Georgia in overtime, as Saban tied Bryant with six titles.

Saban’s four other titles came in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

I rarely find myself agreeing with ESPN much these days, but the worldwide leader in sports got this right: Saban is the greatest coach over Bryant.

To me, the Heisman Trophy winners are the tiebreaker and puts Saban on top.

Individual award winners under Bryant were as rare as seeing pigs with aneroxia.

Alabama’s first individual award winner came four years after Bryant retired.

Linebacker Cornelius Bennett won the Lombardi Award in 1986 under Bryant’s successor, Ray Perkins.

Saban has three Heisman winners: running backs Mark Ingram (2009), Derrick Henry (2015) and Smith (2020).

You can also throw in a pair of Heisman runner-up quarterbacks A.J. McCarron (2013) and Tagovailoa (2018).

Bryant won his titles in a different era: 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1979. Some of those titles came before bowl games.

From the history books, Alabama’s unbeaten team in 1966 should’ve gotten a shot at the national title.

Notre Dame’s infamous 10-10 tie with Michigan State gave the Fighting Irish a national championship in a battle of unbeatens.

I’m not going out and say this is Alabama’s best ever national champion team. The Crimson Tide overcame COVID-19 pandemic to get Saban’s record seventh national crown.

As I wrote in this space last week, Alabama, the SEC, Big 12 and ACC should be commended for sticking to their principles and start the season at the end of September.

Some didn’t think Ohio State deserved a playoff berth. I disagree. Despite getting hammered 52-24 by Alabama, the Buckeyes earned their playoff berth.

Ohio State was no match for the Crimson Tide, whose victory put Saban in a class by himself. Saban was already sitting on the throne. Saban just added another title. The chances are great that he will be adding more championships in the future.