Is Loss to Texas A&M the Biggest Disappointment of Nick Saban's Career?

Zach Dirlam@Zach_DirlamSenior Analyst IINovember 11, 2012

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide endured a difficult loss at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday.
Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide endured a difficult loss at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday.Michael Chang/Getty Images

The Alabama Crimson Tide saw their chances to repeat as BCS National Champions take a major hit after a heartbreaking 29-24 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, and given the high expectations in Tuscaloosa, talk of beating some of the NFL's weakest teams and the euphoric hype surrounding A.J. McCarron and Co., this has to be one of the most disappointing moments of Nick Saban's coaching career, right?

Wrong! To make such a statement is absolutely, positively and without question blasphemous to say the least.

Saban has endured other disappointing losses during his six-year tenure with the Crimson Tide, and that does not even include his five-year stints with the LSU Tigers and Michigan State Spartans, or underwhelming two seasons in the NFL as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. 

Alabama's failure to complete their valiant 20-point comeback with under four minutes remaining in regulation and first-and-goal on Texas A&M's six-yard line gave Saban's greatest supporters something to wallow in sorrow about for the rest of 2012, but is it more disappointing than the beating the Crimson Tide took in the 2009 Sugar Bowl?

Nope. Not even close.

The Crimson Tide had their perfect season derailed by the Florida Gators in the 2008 SEC Championship Game and were the Sugar Bowl's at-large selection to face the undefeated Utah Utes.

Although Alabama entered the game as a 10-point favorite, the Utes raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and eventually celebrated a 31-17 victory over the Crimson Tide in the Superdome.

How about Alabama's loss to the lowly Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks back in 2007, Saban's first season as head coach of the Crimson Tide?

The Warhawks stormed into Bryant-Denny Stadium without a single winning season as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A, and walked out with a 21-14 victory over the Crimson Tide.

"I'm very disappointed," Saban said after the loss five years ago. "I apologize to the people who support this program that we didn't represent it with the class it deserves to be represented with and we will get it fixed."

No such comments were made after Alabama's loss to the Aggies as Saban admitted that, "(Texas A&M) played a tremendous game, and certainly outplayed us."

Remember when the Crimson Tide led the Auburn Tigers 24-0 in the 2010 Iron Bowl only to have Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton carry their arch-rival to a 28-27 victory that snapped Alabama's 20-game home winning streak?

If you don't, walk up to an Alabama fan and ask him or her which loss inflicted a deeper wound.

What about last season when Saban sent his kickers out for six field goal attempts and only saw two split the uprights in a 9-6 overtime loss to LSU?

I'm sure Saban remembers—or maybe it's best if he doesn't—the 1996 Sun Bowl when his Spartans were shutout 38-0 by the Stanford Cardinal and the 51-23 beating the Washington Huskies handed Michigan State in the 1997 Aloha Bowl. Those losses sound a lot more disappointing than Saturday's loss to Kevin Sumlin's Aggies.

Then there is the 2005 Capital One Bowl in which LSU had seemingly won the game with a 69-yard touchdown drive that left just 46 seconds on the clock for the Iowa Hawkeyes to score.

The Hawkeyes beat the Tigers 30-25 with a 59-yard hail mary pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway as time expired.

Nothing is more disappointing than snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

And anyone who has done their homework on Saban knows his second and final season as head coach of the Dolphins did not even come close to living up to the playoff expectations Miami fans had prior to the start of the 2006 campaign.

Saban will never be happy when the Crimson Tide lose, and he never should be, but the West Virginian has endured tougher defeats in his 17-year career as a head coach.

Don't forget that Alabama only needs to beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl in two weeks to win the SEC West and is still very much in the BCS title hunt at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

"Two of the three national championship teams that I coached lost a game," Saban told reporters after the loss to Texas A&M. "There's still a lot for this team to play for."

The Kansas State Wildcats, Oregon Ducks and Notre Dame Fighting Irish had better dispatch of their remaining opponents, because if they don't no one will look back on loss No. 72 in Saban's storied career.

Follow me on Twitter @ZachDirlam_SSN


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