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Rue's Rant on College Sports in Alabama


January 8, 2010 9:44 AM

Tide Finishes Saban's 'Process' With National Title

Saban with national trophy.jpgIs there any doubt about who is the best college football coach in the nation?

 

There is none in Alabama. It's Nick Saban beyond a shadow of a doubt.

 

In three short seasons, he took an Alabama program beset by NCAA probation and one coaching change after another and won the national championship.

 

And he did it his way, using his "process" to produce the result the Crimson Nation has been waiting for since 1992, the Tide's last national title.

 

Alabama's 37-21 victory against Texas Thursday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., wasn't a classic.

 

I must admit that when Texas quarterback Colt McCoy had to leave the game early in the first quarter with a shoulder injury, I was deflated. I had been waiting to see how McCoy and the Longhorns would attack the No. 1 defense in the land. And suddenly he was gone, leaving Texas' offense in the hands of untested freshman Garrett Gilbert.

 

Even though Texas took an early 6-0 lead, in my mind the outcome was no longer in doubt. I knew the Tide's defense would devour young Gilbert. Give him credit for hanging in and throwing two touchdown passes and a two-point conversion in the second half to bring the Horns within 24-21 after they trailed 24-6 at halftime, but I never thought Texas had any chance of winning the game.


Saban had the Tide too focused on finishing the "process" and hoisting the BCS championship trophy.

Saban explained what his process was when he said all the Tide players had bought into what he and his coaching staff were doing (eliminating the clutter and concentrating on the task at hand), and put in the work on and off the field to achieve their goal.

It just wasn't the players who bought in, but the rest of the Crimson Nation. They embraced him and gave him free rein to run the program his way with practically no interference.

Saban said he wasn't solely responsible for the Tide's national title, but he's the one who brought stability and direction to Alabama's football program that had meandered for almost two decades since the late Paul "Bear" Bryant retired as head coach at the end of the 1982 season - the 1992 national championship notwithstanding.

Saban might not know how to celebrate in the immediate aftermath of winning a national championship - his look of disdain after getting drenched with a sports drink showed just how no nonsense the man is - but no one can argue that the man can coach.

Saban became the first coach in the Associated Press poll era (since 1936) to win national titles at two different schools and became the second coach (Florida's Urban Meyer is the other) to win two BCS national championships. He led LSU to the BCS national title in 2003.

Now, the "process" continues as Saban goes to work on repeating, something no team has done under the BCS system.

You can bet Saban already is letting his returning players know that and his incoming recruits, too.

The best coach in the nation never rests.

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