10 Teams We Would Love to See Nick Saban Coach
Nick Saban has racked up four national championships, four SEC crowns, six SEC West titles and has a 154-55-1 record over four stops as a head college football coach, which makes you wonder what other programs he could resurrect.
Indeed, if Saban can lead Toledo to a 9-2 record and a MAC title in one season, take a mediocre Michigan State program to a No. 9 ranking in the final polls in 1999, win a national title at LSU and win three BCS crowns in four years at Alabama, what could he do given another DIY project?
The following slideshow pinpoints 10 teams we would love to see Nick Saban takeover with his proven game-winning, championship-grabbing, life-altering system.
In some of these instances Saban would have an opportunity to cash in on talent that has been under-utilized, while in other cases he could revive a program and alter college football as we know it.
Historical and current recruiting rankings in this presentation are drawn from the Rivals.com team rankings.
It’s no surprise that Nick Saban is at the top of many Texas’ fans list to replace Mack Brown who, regardless of what happens in 2013, should be on his way out in the next two seasons.
Would Saban actually leave Alabama for Texas?
Though that’s a question that we could argue endlessly, the truth is Saban taking over the Longhorn football program would be nothing short of intriguing.
The aspect of the Texas job that makes the thought of Saban at the helm so enticing is wondering what he could do with the Longhorns' stockpile of highly recruited talent.
Indeed, while Mack Brown and crew have under-performed with a super set of athletes since 2010 what could Saban do with recruiting classes that came in at No. 3, No. 3 and No. 2 respectively from 2010-12?
How quickly could the Saban system take Texas from eight- and nine-win seasons to the heights of 11 and 12 wins?
Even I, the non-Longhorn fan, would love to watch it unfold.
The once-proud Tennessee football program has endured three coaching changes since 2008 and has a 28-34 record to show for its trouble.
But, what’s really incredible about the Tennessee football program in that time period is that it’s still been able to attract top recruits at a startling success rate.
To illustrate, the Vols hauled in the No. 35-ranked class of 2008, the No. 10-rated group of 2009, the No. 9-ranked class of 2010, the No. 13 set of 2011, the No. 17 group in 2012 and their 2013 crop is currently ranked at No. 31.
Though these numbers may not seem overwhelming, cumulatively from 2009-12, they average out to put Tennessee in the top 15 in the FBS ranks.
Really the Volunteers' football program is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and given the right coach you’ve got to figure it could explode.
And, given Nick Saban on the sidelines, this explosion could very easily result in a series of crystal footballs.
Though Lane Kiffin could still very well right the ship at USC and rebound from the thud of a 7-6 finish in 2012, you have to think that Saban could do better immediately.
USC has the talent, the facilities, the tradition and the cash to have a realistic expectation of double-digit wins each and every year.
Regardless of the sanctions and the major coaching change, the Trojans have only been out-recruited since 2009 by one team, and that team is Nick Saban’s Alabama.
One of the many elements of a potential Saban move to USC that would be intriguing would be seeing how many games he could win lacing it up vs. the Pac-12 South as opposed to his current home in the brutal SEC West.
You’ve got to think that there is a potential for Nick Saban to be even more successful with USC than he’s been with the Crimson Tide.
Though you’ve got to give Jimbo Fisher credit for taking a program that began to slip at the end of the Bobby Bowden era all the way back to 12 wins in 2012, you have to wonder if his and Florida State’s relationship really can result in a national championship.
Florida State is another program, like USC and like Texas, which has all the right pieces in place to win it all more than once.
But what the Seminoles have that no other “put together” BCS team like it has is a conference home that is arguably far more “winnable” than the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 or Big Ten.
Only Alabama, USC, Texas and Florida have out-recruited Florida State since 2009, a program which has hauled in top 10-rated classes every single year since 2008.
Saban at Florida State very well could be like lightning in a bottle and the result could be a string of record setting ACC titles and BCS runs which would likely begin from day one.
When you look back at Michigan football over the last five years, you have to wonder what happened to the once consistent, mostly double-digit winning product.
The first obvious element when tracking wins and losses since 2008 is the coaching change from Lloyd Carr to Rich Rodriguez after the 2007 season that took a 9-4 team to the depths of a 3-9 record.
The huge disappointments of the Rich Rod era were somewhat soothed by Brady’s Hoke’s first campaign in 2011 which spawned an 11-2 mark that included a win in the BCS Sugar Bowl.
But, all good feelings aside, bringing back a slew of starters in 2012 only to stall to an 8-5 mark in a weak Big Ten makes you wonder if the Wolverines really are on the right track.
Nick Saban at Michigan would arguably provide at least a short-term guarantee that the Wolverines would be a real player both in the Big Ten and nationally.
Another delicious caveat of this possibility would be Saban’s five-year run at Michigan State from 1995-99 which would make the annual clash with the Spartans even more loaded with drama.
If you’re wondering what Saban would have in the cupboard when he moved to Ann Arbor, think recruiting classes that ranked No. 20, No. 21 and No. 7 from 2010-12 and then a 2013 group that Rivals currently has rated at No. 5.
Nebraska’s Bo Pelini is another guy that is difficult to throw under the bus in favor of another coach, and that includes Nick Saban.
Pelini has never dipped below the nine-win mark in five seasons at Nebraska, and he’s brought home division titles four of the five years.
But, is Pelini the guy to take the Cornhuskers from the land of nine and 10 wins to 11 and 12 victory campaigns that end with league championships, BCS runs and, yes, national championships?
To put things into perspective, Nebraska hasn’t won a conference crown since capturing the Big 12 title in 1999, and it hasn’t won a national title since 1997.
What sets the Cornhuskers apart from the first five programs on our list is that they simply haven’t recruited to the same caliber, signing top 25-ranked classes since 2009 but staying well out of the top 10.
This means that even Saban would need a bit of time to turn the crank on championships, but at least he’d have a somewhat soft Big Ten to work with it.
Regardless, Saban putting the “blackshirt” defense, a unit that finished the 2012 season ranked No. 92 vs. the run, back in business would be nothing short of provocative.
It’s difficult to imagine a Saban-coached D giving up 500-plus rushing yards to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title.
Saban at Nebraska would put the hard-nosed, Midwest football giant back on the national radar and no matter where you call home it would be good for the game to have the Huskers back in the mix consistently.
Now many folks might say I’m playing a serious “homer” card by putting Texas Tech on this list, and maybe they’d be right.
But, on the other hand, what better place for Saban than a program like Texas Tech or Cal, or North Carolina, or Illinois or Washington?
Basically, it’s putting a proven winner with a proven system smack dab in the middle of a big-time conference with a program that’s always done well enough but has never been able to consistently be a player.
Though it would be silly to compare Texas Tech’s recruiting numbers with USC, Tennessee and Texas, you’ve got to think if Saban was on board that suddenly top-tier athletes would be flocking to Lubbock.
Another aspect that would be frankly delicious (and yes, I know I am a homer) about Saban at Tech, Cal, North Carolina, Illinois, Washington or a dozen other similar destinations would be the fear it would strike into the hearts of the established power structure.
Suddenly programs like Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, USC, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Michigan would have to reconsider their place at the head of the table, at least the one that has to do with on-field performance.
Saban at Texas Tech, especially long-term, could literally change the face of college football.
The idea of Nick Saban as the head coach at Rutgers is desirable in the same way that his presence at Texas Tech is.
But, in the case of Rutgers there are a few bonuses that would be difficult to repeat at programs like Tech and the others we mentioned in our lengthy discussion on the previous slide.
First, Saban at Rutgers would mean that he would put his system in place at a program that is leaving the Big East for the Big Ten.
This means that suddenly the team that the Big Ten thought they brought in to generate cable/dish package money in the New York/New Jersey market would be a huge on-field player.
It’s fairly simple: The conference brass probably isn’t counting on the Scarlet Knights actually winning the league, especially not consistently.
Though this same line of reasoning would work if Saban and his system went to Maryland, Rutgers again has a trump card and this time it’s one that no other squad in the FBS ranks has up its sleeve.
Yes, Rutgers is one of the two teams (and the only one in the FBS) that participated in the very first college football game, a historic event that took place all the way back in 1869 when the Scarlet Knights squared off with Princeton.
So, now it’s Nick Saban at Rutgers, and if it all works out like we think it could, he upsets the Big Ten apple cart by winning the conference crown three out of four years.
Next, and even more deliciously, Saban leads one of the founding programs in our great sport to the apex by winning a string of BCS titles.
Only in America.
The idea of Nick Saban packing his bags for West Point and leading Army back to the glory of its five national championships in 1910's and 1940’s is arguably even more tasty than that of the Rutgers scenario.
Though Army may present Saban the biggest inherent challenge of the teams presented here, it also holds the biggest pay-off.
Army, like Navy and Air Force, has the deck stacked against it from a modern recruiting standpoint and the truth is even Saban might struggle to bring the Black Knights back to title town.
But, boy wouldn’t it be exciting to see Saban on the sidelines at West Point and don’t you know that Navy would finally get sunk and if nothing else the Commander in Chief trophies would start pouring in.
And the whole patriotic angle would make it hard for Saban haters to be as public in their vehement dislike for the wavy-haired football coach.
Go Army. Go Saban. Beat everybody.
Though we all know about Nick Saban’s 15-17 run with the Miami Dolphins from 2005-06 does anyone else wonder what Saban, post-Alabama, could do with another crack at the NFL?
Yes, this is a guy who is currently at the top of the coaching world so the big question is, has he perfected his system in a way that would translate victoriously to a good situation in the NFL?
Taking over the reins at the Dallas Cowboys would provide visibility, cash and a whack at doing his thing on the biggest stage in all of football.
Nick Saban coaching the Dallas Cowboys is arguably the most intriguing, risky, ballsy and exciting option on our list.
And frankly it’s a night and day difference from coaching the Miami Dolphins.
It’s Jerry Jones finally deciding to become the ring kisser rather than the wearer of the ring and the result?
Well, could it be a handful of Super Bowl rings?
If nothing else, it’s a media explosion unlike any other and don’t you know Jones would drool at the opportunity to welcome the cameras to his little world in North Texas?