LSU vs. Alabama: Why Bear Bryant Will Always Reign over Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa

Dr. SECAnalyst IIJanuary 10, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide waves to the crowd after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama won the game by a score of 21-0.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For each person who is successful in their vocation in a capitalist society, there is a driving force. Some people are motivated by providing for their families. Others are motivated by obtaining higher positions and greater power. The list is long and varies for many people.

Make no mistake about it, the driving factor for Nick Saban is his ego.

Perhaps it is his smaller physical stature that has put the chip on his shoulder. Perhaps it is just a competitive spirit taught from his parents. Regardless of why, his ego is what drives him, and he relishes the underdog role.

This is what makes his relationship with Alabama a perfect match. There is a chance that a school like Texas will soon come along and start a bidding war with Alabama that the university can’t match. However, I don’t believe that Saban will leave Tuscaloosa for more money.

Being from the state of Alabama, I can say without fear of contradiction that most occupants inside the state not only follow football but border on worship. If Alabama football is their religion, then Saban now stands as their priest.  People like Paul Finebaum lead the way in their daily administration of Sabanism.

However, there is one legacy that he will never pass—that of legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

The good news for Alabama is that Bryant's legacy is what will keep Saban in Alabama and keep him working at his current pace. He needs something to push him, and he will use the legacy of Bear Bryant to do it.

Bryant won six national championships, 13 SEC titles and was the SEC coach of the year 10 times.

It is not just the numbers that make the Bear's run unmatched. He took Alabama to heights they had never dreamed of and that will never be duplicated. From that moment on, it is about returning the Tide to glory, but Bryant got them there in the first place. 

Those numbers will likely never be matched by any SEC coach, but Saban will work every day to try. In the end, Saban will one day retire from football as the second greatest coach in Alabama history. He will not be remembered as the second Bear Bryant but the first Nick Saban.

It is easy to dislike Saban the person and the process he uses to build a roster. But it is impossible to deny his success and not admire his work ethic. 

Prior to the arrival of Saban in Tuscaloosa, the general consensus was that Alabama would never have another great coach because no one wanted to live in the shadow of the Bear. However, Saban needs the shadow of the Bear.

He needs to feel like an underdog; if he doesn’t, then he becomes discontent and looks for the next job. The chase for the Bear will always keep him wanting more. How many years Saban has left is impossible to know.  But with four less national championships at Alabama than Bear and 12 less SEC championships, he has a driving factor.

In the end he will not catch him, but it will be a fun race to watch for Tide fans. I just feel sorry for the next generation of coaches who have to live in the shadow of the Bear and Saban.