Nick Saban ushered in the next great era of Alabama Crimson Tide football, and a second national championship in only his fifth year at the Capstone is doing nothing to hurt his chances for being called the greatest in Tide history.
He has a long way to go before he gets there, true, but he is well on his way. Putting the 2011 season's championship in his pocket has set him up for one of the best shots at a three-peat that we have seen since Florida State made it to three BCS title games in a row (from 1999 to 2001).
As the best coach in Tide history, he would have to eclipse the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, the current best coach in college football history. In doing so, he would take on the mantle.
"Whoever said 'it doesn't matter whether you win or lose that counts' probably lost." - Martina Navratilova
The greatest coach in history doesn't necessarily have to have the most wins or least losses of all the coaches he's up against, but he has to have a record that makes sense.
In his entire collegiate head coaching history, he has had zero losing regular seasons. That's right, zero.
He coached the 1996 Michigan State team to a 6-6 record, and did the same thing at the Capstone in 2007 (his first year taking over a program that hadn't seen a national championship game since the 1992 season).
Nick Saban's record in college football is 146-54-1 after 16 seasons. The good news for those of you who are already counting him out is that his record at Alabama is 55-12 after five years, averaging 11 wins per year.
Averaging 10 wins is something that Alabama can maintain well into the future if you take his recruiting into consideration (which the next slide will do).
Nick Saban took over for the Alabama Crimson Tide in one of the lowest points in Tide history (definitely the longest of my lifetime, as I was born in 1982). Despite this fact, according to ESPN, he brought the 17th-ranked recruiting class in the nation to Alabama in 2007.
The following years, he brought in two classes ranked No. 2 (2009, 2011) and two classes ranked No. 3 (2008, 2010). The foundation of a football team, regardless of where you coach, is the potential of the players on the field.
The future is a combination of potential and discipline, and that is where Nick Saban's four straight years with 10-plus wins speak for themselves. Nick Saban has taken the top recruits in the nation and turned them into championship-caliber teams repeatedly.
Nick Saban outlines his system in his book, which he based on his championship season at LSU in 2003. The system can be perfect and still not yield a single national championship. You have to be able to motivate the team to do what they need to do.
You can't motivate from the outside and win championships. You have to find a way to make the team want the success badly enough to work for it. That kind of drive can only come from within someone's heart.
The fact that Alabama has been in the top 10 at some point in every single season since his first recruiting class took the starting positions speaks volumes (remember, the 2008 sophomores were the 17th-ranked recruiting class back in 2007, and they were undefeated until the SEC Championship Game).
Nick Saban returns to the top of college football repeatedly, and that is a testament to his ability to motivate his team. Not by fear, because that wouldn't last, but by finding what each player needs to hear to make the victories personal.
That's what leads to championships, and that's the mark of one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
Paul "Bear" Bryant is one of the best coaches in history, and he amassed a record of 323-85-17. That's a win percentage of 76 from 1945 to 1982.
Though it is arguable that he is the best coach in the history of college football, the margin Saban stands to gain over him should remove all doubt as to who the best is.
Nick Saban has been a head coach since 1990, and has amassed a record of 146-54-1 for a win percentage of 72.63. He has a win percentage of 82.08 at the Capstone, and just a few years of that can bring him into the No. 1 spot.
As far as national championships, the Bear had six at the Capstone in his career. Saban already has three in his short career, and two of those came at Alabama in three years.
As far as his track record, it speaks for itself. Saban, if he sticks around CFB long enough, will statistically own that title.
The Crimson Tide came out on the field and played with more heart than I have ever seen on a football field in my lifetime. Heart is the fault of the coach. I live on a campus with a football team that goes out onto the field every week "knowing" that they are going to lose.
The Western Carolina Catamounts finished 1-11 this year, and their head coach was rightfully fired. Heart is inside each person, and it's the coach's job to bring that heart out of them and get them to put it on the field. Saban does that, and he does it well.
He doesn't teach the "win at all costs" lesson. He wants his team to go out and play good, clean fundamental football and still come out with the win. He wants them to win with class and sportsmanship. He was more angry-looking when the penalty was called than I saw him at any other time in the game.
If I had to choose the captain of a ship, Saban fits the bill. With championships to go along with his value as a role model, it makes him one of the best in history. Give him a little more time, and I'll probably get to see him get the title "best."