The Striking Similarities Between 2007 Nick Saban and 2012 Urban Meyer
On January 3rd, 2007, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Nick Saban, announced he would be taking over as the 27th head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban had previously denied this report publicly, but ultimately revealed he would be leaving the Dolphins.
In the midst of some controversy, Alabama fans were ecstatic, critics were critical and most of the football world took notice that a storm was brewing in Alabama the Beautiful.
Saban's contract would be worth $4 million annually as a base salary, plus other retention benefits.
Although he would take the reins just one month from Nation Signing Day, Saban quickly hit the recruiting trail. He retained players committed to Mike Shula like Rolando McClain, William Vlachos and Nick Gentry—no small feat when coaching turnover is involved.
More impressively, however, 16 commitments were added from January 3rd, 2007 until national singing day on February 7th, 2007. These included future stars such as Marquis Maze, Kareem Jackson and Josh Chapman.
It may not have looked like much at the time, but slowly and surely, Alabama was forming a dynasty. In 2007, Alabama finished 10th in recruiting per Rivals, largely due to the commitments garnered by their new head coach.
They were out of the top 25 before Saban took over.
Although the next season would put Alabama once again in the heat of NCAA sanctions, the Tide would close out with an Independence Bowl win over Colorado and would never look back.
Four straight 10-win seasons, four No. 1 recruiting classes, two National Championships and one Heisman winner rounds out Saban's tenure since 2008.
Now, if we fast forward almost five years, something strange happens.
On November 28th, 2011: Urban Meyer accepts the job as the 24th head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer had previously denied this report publicly but ultimately accepted the job while Jim Tressel operated as acting head coach.
Again, in the midst of some controversy, Ohio State fans were ecstatic to have landed such a big name coach late in the season while their football season looked completely lost.
Meyer's contract would end up being worth $4 million annually, plus some retention benefits.
Just as Saban did at Alabama, Meyer immediately made an impact in recruiting, even with limited time towards National Signing Day. On November 22, 2011—six days before Urban Meyer was named the new head coach—the Buckeyes weren't in the Top 25 in recruiting.
At the end of National Signing Day, Ohio State finished sixth overall in the recruiting rankings per ESPN. Meyer retained big names signed by Tressel such as ESPNU150 defensive end, Adolphus Washington and 4-star wide receiver Michael Thomas.
More impressively, Meyer adds 11 commitments after his hire including DE Se'Von Pittman, OG Joey O'Connor, DT Tommy Schutt and 5-star DE Noah Spence, all of whom are ESPNU150 players.
The similarities between 2007 Saban and 2012 Meyer are undeniable.
Does Meyer's Hire Look Like Nick Saban's?
Next season, the Buckeyes will be playing in the middle of NCAA sanctions and will actually miss their bowl game because of them. With very raw and young talent developing, there shouldn't be a lot expected of this group. The 2007 Crimson Tide finished with a 7-6 record. Look for about the same with next year's Ohio State Buckeyes.
However, as the situation stands, the hiring of Urban Meyer at OSU stands as almost an exact clone of the hiring of Nick Saban at Alabama.
If history tells us anything, it is that it likes to repeat itself. It often gives us clues as to what is coming; we just have to look hard enough.
Looking at the situation now, the storm is undeniably in Tuscaloosa, but a squall is forming in Columbus.
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