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Saint Nick Saban and His Faithful

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Saint Nick Saban and His Faithful

"Is Saban the Savior?" asked the Crimson and White, an all-Alabama-all-the-time tabloid. Another local paper dubbed him "Saint Nick."

Religious connotations bestowed upon a football coach?!  What kind of sick fans would do such a thing?  The Crimson Tide fans really are delusional, aren't they?

But here's the thing—the actual quote was: "Is Saban the Savior?" asked the Tiger Rag, an all-LSU-all-the-time tabloid.  Another local paper dubbed him "Saint Nick."  It was written by Andrew Bagnato in the Aug. 24, 2000 edition of the Chicago Tribune as Nick Saban was set to begin his first season at LSU.

The name of the article—Bolt to the Bayou: LSU's Saban saddled with big expectations.

Sound familiar?

As the new millennium began in the Bayou, there was much hand wringing by the national media over the selection of Nick Saban as LSU's coach.  The list of issues with his hiring looked like this:

* Nick Saban left his program at Michigan State in a lurch.

* He was paid too much money to go to LSU.

* The LSU fan base is far too demanding and has unrealistic expectations.

* And for heaven's sakes, Saban doesn't wear socks with his loafers.  

One year later, at the end of 2001, LSU defeated Tennessee in the SEC championship game.  Suddenly, the list of concerns regarding Saban seemed pretty trivial.  National media: "Concerns, what concerns?"

Having secured a championship, LSU fans were no longer considered delusional by the national media.  They were now known as the LSU faithful.   

But the list of concerns against Nick Saban wasn't totally forgotten. Upon his hiring by Alabama in December 2006, the national media performed some slight editing and re-presented the list of concerns:

* Nick Saban left his program with the Miami Dolphins in the lurch.

* He was paid too much money to go to Alabama.

* The Alabama fan base is too demanding and has unrealistic expectations.

* And for heaven's sakes, Saban doesn't wear socks with his loafers.

One year later, September 2008, as Alabama begins the process of seeking to win an SEC championship of their own this Saturday, Alabama fans are happily delusional in this thought: one fine day in the future, they will no longer be labeled as delusional—but rather as the faithful.

And then, with a championship in hand, perhaps only the most mentally ill of the Crimson Tide fans will dare to joke that the reason that Saint Nick doesn't wear socks is because he doesn't want to get them wet when he walks on the water.

But that would be beyond delusional.  That would be delirium: the kind of delirium or overwhelming joy that accompanies championships.

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