It’s Saban’s world and the SEC is just living in it.

With Les Miles’ firing, Nick Saban is now the senior SEC coach, in terms of years at the current job.  While it’s tempting to react merely by saying what took things so long, the actual data is eye-opening.

Not counting interim guys like Ed Orgeron, who’ll pilot the ship at LSU for the rest of this season, whoever follows Miles full time will be the 22nd SEC head coach introduced since Saban landed in Tuscaloosa.

Now every other current SEC member has changed coaches at least once since Alabama hired Saban in 2007, though Texas A&M did it while still in the Big 12.

Here’s the sobering and staggering part. New doesn’t always equal better. Of all the SEC coaching changes in the Saban era, only two have landed men who went on to win a conference championship.

Both happened at Auburn.

The Tigers won the SEC and BCS titles two years after Gene Chizik replaced Tommy Tuberville, and they won the SEC title and played for the BCS championship the year after Gus Malzahn followed Chizik.

That’s it. That’s the sum total of SEC coaching changes in the Saban era that have led to a conference championship. Two for 21. You can’t fire string-pulling boosters, but that .095 batting average makes you wonder why more ADs and school presidents don’t get whacked.

C’mon, man.  Get real.

That is why you change coaches, right? To win more games and better compete for championships? It hasn’t really turned out that way except at Auburn.

That doesn’t stop ADs, presidents and string-pulling boosters from cutting loose coaches as accomplished as Miles and Mark Richt.

If Saban has changed the equation in the SEC, it’s to make winning itself insufficient at certain programs and put all the emphasis on winning championships. Trouble is, the record shows changing coaches doesn’t mean you’re going to win championships.

Everyone’s gonna look smarter the day after Saban retires.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules

56 responses to “It’s Saban’s world and the SEC is just living in it.

  1. Mark Richt didn’t win an SEC championship during the Nick Saban era either.

    • Aladawg

      Yes he did, though it was while he was at LSU.

      • I’m referring to this:

        Not counting interim guys like Ed Orgeron, who’ll pilot the ship at LSU for the rest of this season, whoever follows Miles full time will be the 22nd SEC head coach introduced since Saban landed in Tuscaloosa.

        Now every other current SEC member has changed coaches at least once since Alabama hired Saban in 2007, though Texas A&M did it while still in the Big 12.

        Here’s the sobering and staggering part. New doesn’t always equal better. Of all the SEC coaching changes in the Saban era, only two have landed men who went on to win a conference championship.

        The author defined the “Saban era” as his time in Alabama and judged the coaching hires according to that time frame. And, to an extent, Saban didn’t truly come to power until he arrived in Alabama in 2007, so I get where the author is coming from.

      • aladawg

        Saban was at LSU 200-2004. Mark Richt won in 2003.

  2. Aunt Edna

    I love how much angst Nick Saban causes the rest of the world purely by being himself and winning football games.

  3. Michael

    That argument has a huge selection problem. The best coaches are less likely to be fired, which means that the ones with the longest tenures are also the ones who are most likely to win the SEC, but it’s not the length of their tenures that makes them likely to win the conference. The stat butchers correlation and causation.

    And what’s the implicit message? That teams should just hold onto coaches? Where would Ole Miss be if they just held onto Houston Nutt or Ed Orgeron? Where would Tennessee be if they held onto a declining Phil Fulmer or Derek Dooley? Where would Florida be if they just held onto Will Muschamp?

    The problem, if there is one, is not that teams should just keep their coaches because longevity causes success (because it doesn’t). It’s that teams make dumb decisions in hiring replacements. You know, like hiring a bunch of Saban assistants.

    • Chopdawg

      I seriously wonder if schools won’t start hiring coaches to shorter-term contracts. No matter how great your coach seems to be during his first few years, sooner or later he’s going to make a mistake, and you’re going to want to fire him. Then you’ll have to pay his multi-million-dollar buyout.

      • DawgPhan

        They need to stick this money somewhere and coaches agents have found the perfect place for it.

        I wouldnt expect the contracts to do anything but get longer and bigger as we move forward.

      • You talk about negative recruiting. I can see Coach #1 say, “I have a 5-year contract with a rollover provision. Coach #2 has a 3-year deal. How secure are you that Coach #2 is going to be there during your time in CollegeTown, USA?”

        • 81Dog

          If Coach 1 is at Auburn, he shouldn’t feel all that secure about being there in 2 years, regardless of how long his deal is.😉

    • It’s that teams make dumb decisions in hiring replacements. You know, like hiring a bunch of Saban assistants.


      • Mad Mike

        Sheesh, this place is becoming the center of the anti-Kirby universe huh?

        • I don’t think it’s as much anti-Kirby as it is anti-Butts-Mehre.

          Don’t say I didn’t warn you, either.

          • Mad Mike

            Oh, I know you did, and I agree that the whole fire/hire process came off as very knee jerk and not very well thought out. I would feel better if they had came to their decision after a well executed search, but I guess we don’t call him McGoof for nothing…. That being said I support Kirby until he has sufficient time to show what he’s really capable of. Many more days like Saturday, and that’ll speed up that “process”.

            • Russ

              “Many more days like Saturday, and that’ll speed up that ‘process’.”

              LOL! I’m right there with you, Mad Mike. I obviously want Kirby to succeed, but the transition hasn’t been pretty thus far.

              • Mad Mike

                No, it hasn’t. Honestly, I’ve been expecting 3-4 losses this year the whole time. We just need to be competitive and show improvement. Saturday was not that at all. I know that largely rests on Kirby since he is the guy making the big bucks. I just think he needs more than four games before folks start wanting to call it a disaster.

          • Greg

            That is it, at least it is for me.

        • PTC DAWG

          Has been for a while…getting more and more comical..

          • Mad Mike

            Well, when a large portion of the fan base has an ax to grind with another large portion, I guess this is what we get. Unless Kirby wins a N.C. It’s only gonna get worse.

            • In all sincerity – how exactly did the part of the fanbase that demanded change and labeled those that were concerned about the ability of McGarity and B-M to make a good decision as “coach-lovers” or “mediocrity accepters” expect this to all play out? Did they think it was just going to be kumbaya around a fire after showing their asses for years to part of the fanbase that maybe didn’t see it the exact same way as them? I think people are conflating the fracture with being in one coach’s camp or another. There’s a certainly a portion of both sides where that is true, but I think the fracture runs much deeper than that and Kirby just ends up being that vessel of discussion since he was the end product of the decision.

              • Mad Mike

                I don’t disagree with that at all, I get both sides of the argument. I’m just of the mindset that this all makes being a Georgia fan suck right now.

              • PTC DAWG

                I was ready for change…we knew what we had. Who knows if what we have now will work or not? Will take 3 years to see at least. EVEN if we win the East this year, we know nothing…see UF last year. They won the weakest east ever…gave up the ghost in Knoxville last week.

                • There’s nothing wrong with wanting a change, in and of itself. Like the Senator, I was fairly Richt-agnostic but had (and still do) zero faith in B-M and McGarity to make a good decision and fully support that decision. It was the constant bombardment of insults and pettiness that was thrown at those that didn’t want the change (for whatever reason) that is driving this fracture. The change wanters shouldn’t be surprised that the other folks aren’t exactly keen on playing nice right now is what I’m saying. If your position on a matter important to you was constantly insulted or belittled, you’d be a little hesitant to be nice to the people that constantly belittled or insulted you. Hence where we stand as a divided fanbase.

            • PTC DAWG

              I’m a part of the fan base who would like to see an SEC Title…put me down in that portion.

    • Uglydawg

      Good points, Michael. And I’d also mention James Franklin and the way he made Vandy competitive for the short while he was there. Spurrier certainly bought SC a little glory also. Look at the coach shuffling at O’MS before finally settling on Freeze..
      I think the bottom line is that most schools have unrealistic ideas of what their programs will ever be able to achieve..or achieve very rarely. Chasing Saban is a disorder that is costing a heck of a lot of money, but it does sometimes help a team progress (and I’m not sold on the notion that every school that replaces it’s coach is starry eyed about winning the NC. Sometimes it’s just about improving or refreshing a stale program).

      • Uglydawg

        Although I don’t really accept your last sentence. It’s inflammatory and premature in it’s judgement of the hire.

  4. Aladawg

    Those string pulling idiots need to fire the AD and McGoofy would be a very nice place to start thank you very much.

  5. Russ

    Hey, but at least they’re not settling for mediocrity, amirite?

  6. Groundhog Day!!!…….somebody crank up the Polka music.

  7. Macallanlover

    Saw this on another site, there are only four active HCs that have won “national titles”: Saban Corch, Jimbo, and Stoops. Emphasis needs to be on competing, and contending for conference titles. Can only be one SEC champ each year and no one but Alabama has won more than 13 in almost 100 years.

    The amount of money pissed down the drain with contract buyouts can be much better used. Contracts should be shorter in duration and more tied to performance hurdles with less guaranteed. If titles are only objective, put a reasonable base in and a bonus for titles achieved. Look what LSU is about to pay because a referee didn’t give the Tigers a reasonable chance to snap a football…then it would have been Malzahn dodging bullets rather than feasting at the Waffle House.

  8. ASEF

    Meh. The notion that the SEC is churning coaches trying to best Saban doesn’t hold up at all when you look at the individual universities. Yes, SEC schools have proven too impatient, but that predates Saban. Alabama went through 4 coaches in 10 years prior to Saban – was that a Fulmer or Spurrier Effect?

    Was Saban responsible for Fulmer being kicked to the curb and sparking the Kiffin-Dooley-Jones dominoes? (UT: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for Bobby Johnson retiring or James Franklin getting poached by Penn State? (VU: 4)

    Was Saban responsible for Spurrier just quitting in the middle of the season? (SC: 1)

    Was Saban responsible for Rich Brooks retiring or Joker Phillips stinking? (UK: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for Urban quitting? Or for Foley botching the hiring of his replacement? (UF: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for Gary Pinkel retiring? (UM: 2)

    Was Saban responsible for the working relationship between McGarity and Richt degrading into absurdity? (UGA: 2)

    SEC East: 18

    Was Saban responsible for Petrino getting the hots for a grad student married to one of his assistants? (AR: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for the general dysfunction of Orgeron and Nutt at Ole Miss? (OM: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for Tuberville going 14-11 over his last 2 season? Or Chizik clearly losing the confidence of his entire team in an 0-8 campaign? (AU: 3)

    Was Saban responsible for Sylvester Croom? (MS: 2)

    Was Saban responsible for anything at TAMU other than getting Sumlin a $30 million buy-out? (TAMU: 2)

    Was Saban responsible for LSU ditching Miles for refusing to make obviously needed changes to his offense? (LSU: 2)

    SEC West: 15

    You could make good arguments that LSU and Auburn needed more patience and that Saban’s presence deprived those situations of said patience – but as the article notes, Auburn’s actually benefitted from those changes.

    I think Georgia was nothing more than McGarity and Richt reaching the end of their rope. You could argue that Saban created the arms race that crated the tension between McGarity and Richt – Richt wanting more staff and facilities support, McGarity wanting more Saban-like attention to detail – and I wouldn’t say you were wrong. But Roy Williams left Kansas in part because he’d had it with the AD there. Those sorts of tensions have always existed, even with highly successful coaches. It’s entirely possible Richt heads to Miami on his own, Saban or no Saban, out of sheer frustration with his boss at Georgia.

  9. SABAN the alternate GOD of Saturday Football, LOL.

  10. Will Trane

    I understand the frustration of many because of the success of Saban.
    We heard this same refrain during the Bear Bryant era.
    It will pass, but.
    All it takes is a very good young coach to change the situation. UF and Meyers were doing it. Saban took them out.
    No coach in no conference dominates. It is that the other coaches with their programs fail to measure and succeed.
    We could be witnessing that in Athens.
    Want to wager which way it goes.
    For some reason in the past three days I have had a slight question about the “brain trust defense from Bama relocated to Athens”. Something happened to those boys when they crossed the Hooch.
    Some head coach had better start kicking ass and taking names.
    Once again a very high priced staff ain’t getting it done. There has been a regression in execution.

    • AusDawg85

      OMG…Will got this right. True, lasting change for the better comes from innovation. Trying to copy Bama is not a lasting solution….they’ve got a head start on it and will a,ways be in front institutionally. Not to imply they win every game ever, but their odds of lasting success are much higher UNTIL someone disrupts their model. Scam Newton did that. Corch knows how. Kirby is a DGD and may uphold Georgia football “traditions” but that simply may not lead to sustained success, other than maybe in the SEC East. I don’t know iif the answer was Herman (and frankly doubt he’s would have come / right guy anyway) but we damn sure missed a huge opportunity to bring a real innovator / disrupter to Athens to take us a lot further than becoming Bama Lite.

      Our administration is playing the wrong game.

  11. Sanford222view

    Also, now that Miles is out at LSU there are only 4 active head coaches that have won National Titles. Saban, Meyer, Stoops, and Fisher. Saban has as many Nat’l Titles as all the others combined. Saban has five and the rest have five combined. Pretty impressive. Makes you realize finding a coach who can win a National Championship or even winning one isn’t exactly that easy.

    • Jared S.

      “Makes you realize finding a coach who can win a National Championship….isn’t exactly that easy.”

      Makes who realize? Not much of Dawg Nation. Lol.

  12. It’s simple, really.

    1) Hire a coach.

    2) Hand him the keys.

    3) Hand him the checkbook.

    4) Don’t ask questions.

    Hope he doesn’t drive your program off of a cliff.


  13. Siskey

    By my math the only two SEC coaches who were at their school when Saban was hired that have won the SEC since he has been at Alabama are Meyer in 08 and Miles in 07 and 11 .Bama won in 09, 12, 14, and 15. As the article states the two that were hired after him that won were Chizik and Mahlzan who won it in 2010 and 2013. Of the remainder who remained at their school from his hiring only Richt, Miles and Spurrier lasted more than a few years.
    This just underscores how successful and in my lifetime anyway unprecedented he has been since coming to Alabama.