Regardless of what happens in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has cemented himself as the best college football coach ever. EVER.
Alabama's head coach could tie the record for most championships by one coach with a win over Clemson on Monday night — and if you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance he did tie that record.
Even if the Tide loses to Clemson, Saban can already be considered the best coach in NCAA history.
There's really only an argument to be made for one other coach: Bear Bryant.
The (other) famed Alabama coach went 232-46-9 (.824 win percentage) over 25 years as the Tide's head coach and 323-85-17 overall (.760 win percentage). He won 13 SEC Championships and his six titles came over the course of an 18-year span (1961, 1964, 1965, 1963, 1978 and 1979).
Bryant's Alabama teams won back-to-back titles twice, and he was named the SEC's coach of the year 12 times (11 at Alabama).
As impressive as those numbers are, Saban has simply been better. That's not a discredit to Bryant — he was undoubtedly an incredible coach and his longevity and success are remarkable — but what Saban has done in the SEC and the national stage is astounding.
|Rank||Coach||# of Titles||Career win %|
|2 (tie)||Nick Saban||5||.777|
|2 (tie)||Howard Jones||5||.732|
|2 (tie)||Bernie Bierman||5||.711|
|5 (tie)||Frank Leahy||4||.864|
|5 (tie)||John McKay||4||.749|
Not unlike Bryant, who had a 6-2-1 record (.722 win percentage) in one year at Maryland, a 60-23-5 record (.710 win percentage) at Kentucky and a 25-14-2 record (.634) at Texas A&M before taking the Alabama job, Saban has found success outside of Alabama. Saban has a winning record at every stop, going 9-2 (.818 win percentage) in one year at Toledo, 34-24-1 (.585) in five years at Michigan State, and 48-16 (.750 win percentage) over five years at LSU.
Unlike Bryant, Saban has a national championship from before his days with the Tide, as he led LSU to the 2003 title, going 13-1 over the course of the season and defeating Oklahoma 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
Saban has compiled a 119-18 record at Alabama, winning an astounding 86.9 percent of his games. Oh, and the Tide has four titles since he took over as head coach in 2007.
After struggling in his first season (a 7-6 record that the NCAA recognizes as a 2-6 record after NCAA violations from the prior coaching staff), Saban quickly turned things around. In 2008 the Tide went 12-2 overall and won the SEC with a perfect 8-0 conference record. They fell in the Sugar Bowl to Utah, 31-17.
In 2009, Saban's third year at the program, the Tide ran the table, going 14-0 on the way to a BCS National Championship in a 37-21 win over Texas. That was the start of an incredible nine-year run that continues to this day.
Since 2009, Alabama has won four titles (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015) and has a chance to add a fifth this year. The worst finish for Alabama in that stretch? In 2010, Alabama finished No. 10 in the AP Poll. That's right, since 2009, Alabama has never finished a season outside the AP top 10.
If Alabama wins Monday Saban will tie Bryant's record for most championships by a single coach. He will also match Bryant's achievement of repeating as a champion twice, and he'll do so in 21 years as a college head coach what took Bryant 38 years to achieve.
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Saban is 65 and won't coach for forever, but it's hard to imagine he doesn't have a shot to win two or even three more championships. Considering Alabama's continued success on the recruiting trail and the absolute behemoth of a program he's built, the Tide will be a championship-caliber team long after Saban retires.
Monday's championship game matters. Obviously. But Saban is already the best coach in college football history.