In Terms of Greatness, Has Saban Surpassed The Bear?

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The answer is yes.

‘Bama’s win over UGA Monday night brought Nick Saban his sixth national title and fifth in the last nine years. The win tied Saban with legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in the number of national titles won.


Saban says that he doesn’t care much about that achievement. He says he’s just happy for players and fans. But. let’s face reality: no matter what Saban says, the comparison is inevitable.

Has Saban surpassed the Bear? I say the answer is yes.

I’ll admit that Bryant edges Saban in personality. The Bear was homey, yet gritty, like sweet tea with two pounds of sugar in it. But Saban has three major things over Bryant.

Recruiting: Bryant knew how to recruit. But one big thing differentiates Saban from Bryant: his ability to recruit from outside Alabama and the South. Case in point is Monday’s unlikely QB star, Tua Tagovailoa. He’s from HAWAII. How on earth did Saban hear about the guy? It’s simple. Saban knows talent and he has surrounded himself with coaches who pinpoint team’s needs. All teams do that, but clearly not as well as Alabama. Want proof? Saban and his staff have landed the top recruiting class seven straight seasons. The Tide restocks and reloads. It’s just that simple.

Saban has done more in less time: Bryant came to ‘Bama in 1958 in the wake of Jennings B. Whitworth’s disastrous tenure (4-24). The Bear then reeled off six national titles in 25 years. Saban took over under the same circumstances. The Tide went 10-23 under Mike Shula. The difference? Saban has won 5 championships in 11 years– less than half the time it took Bryant to win his crowns.

Saban’s record is better then Bryant’s. He’s winning national championships at a quicker rate and he’s doing it during a period of uber-competition.

Saban won in both the BCS and CFP eras: In Bryant’s day, if pollsters believed you were the nation’s best team, then they ranked you #1 and you got to be the national champ. Things are different today. Starting in 1998 the nation’s top two teams squared off in a national BCS championship game. That’s right, a game (as in one). While it was impressive during the BCS era to win the national title by defeating another top team, it’s even more difficult in the CFL era. The eventual national champ has to win two games against top teams. So what has Alabama done? It has made the CFP every year that it has been in existence. And it has competed in the CFP championship game in each of the past three seasons. Wow!


Courtesy: USA Today

Bear Bryant remains a college football immortal. But as good as Bryant was, Saban is better. And Saban isn’t finished. Don’t expect this 66-year-old to retire and concentrate on golf.

For now, at least, King Saban and Alabama rule college football.

Hail, Nick!


Cameron Brown is a former Webster County basketball player and an undergraduate student at Western Kentucky University, majoring in journalism and history with a minor in broadcasting. Contact him at


About Cameron Brown

Cameron Brown is sports columnist with The Journal-Enterprise, Providence, Kentucky and winner of the Kentucky Press Association “Best Sports Column of the Year” award. Cameron has a passion for basketball–like so many others in his home state of Kentucky. He played basketball for his high school in rural western Kentucky and enjoys other sports, including college football and Major League Baseball. His dream is to have a job in sports.

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Comments (In Terms of Greatness, Has Saban Surpassed The Bear?)

    Sweet swingin sweener wrote (01/10/18 - 11:12:17AM)

    Interesting comparison between the 2 greats. Same number of championships but 5 in 11 years for Saban? Wow. That is the definition of dynastic. I’m not a Bama fan but I can’t help but be a Saban fan. That guy definitely has this college thing figured out