“… You’re starting to hear that phrase more and more around the SEC with Alabama winning four of the last eight national championships under Nick Saban and going 45-5 in its last 50 games against SEC foes. Maybe the best explanation for what it means is simply this: Since Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the other 11 schools that were in the SEC at the time have had 34 different head coaches, including at least three different coaches at eight of the 11 schools.”
Whether Saban is the greatest coach in SEC history is a subject for debate, but I don’t think there’s any argument about whether he’s been the most influential on the course taken by other conference programs. When you consider that none of the deck shuffling has had the slightest impact on Alabama, the results are both sad and amazing. You’d figure that with all the resources available around the SEC, some school would have emerged and remained a consistent rival over the course of a decade, but not so far.
27 responses to ““So what is the Saban effect?””
there are pros and there are amateurs…in any endeavor…Nick is on top of his game and he ain’t letting go anytime soon.
Agree. Saban has refined his trade to near perfection. Plus, he has a multi year head start on anyone else who wishes to challenge him.
I think Kirby understands this last part particularly well. Last year’s 8-5 was a disappointment to all, but I think Kirby sees it as a blip on a 10 to 15 year scale.
This again? Here are the coaches that have left for various reasons since Saban joined for every school (not counting interim coaches):
Arkansas: Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino
Auburn: Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik
Florida: Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp
Georgia: Mark Richt
Kentucky: Rich Brooks, Joker Phillips
LSU: Les Miles
Missouri: Gary Pinkel
Ole Miss: Ed Orgeron, Houston Nutt, Hugh Freeze
Misssissippi State: Sylvester Croom
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier
Tennessee: Phil Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley
Vanderbilt: Bobby Johnson, Robbie Caldwell, James Franklin
Of those firings, retirements or simple jumps to other schools, the only one that was obviously caused by Saban was Les Miles. You could argue that Meyer left Florida because of Saban, and while I think it’s a stretch, there’s an argument for Tubberville and Richt. But what about all of the Saban disciples, you ask? Florida’s hired two and Georgia one. That’s it, unless you want to count South Carolina hiring Muschamp as a retread. Derek Dooley did coach under Saban, but he was hired out of desperation more than anything and doesn’t represent the spirit of the “Saban broke the SEC” narrative. Under normal circumstances, Tennessee has hired Kiffin and Jones.
I’m not arguing that there’s nothing to the so-called Saban Effect. I just think it’s grossly exaggerated.
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Meyer, Tubs and CMR are all victims in their own way. Had Saban been able to win in Miami all their lives would be different.
Richt was a direct result of Saban Derangement Syndrome. Les Miles also.
Championship teams for the normal powerhouse school does not come around every year. You have to win it when the pieces come together in just the right way. Those years for UGA were 2002 and 2012. In 2002, Richt was as unlucky as Jim Tressel was lucky. In 2012, Richt came up against the best coach of this generation and was beat by a deeper team that ultimately won a National Title.
Richt was fired, in no small part, because he failed to win the national title in 2012.
Sure, Richt underperformed at UGA towards the end, but if the team across the border doesn’t win 4 of the last 8 titles, one could easily make the argument that Richt is still here.
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Richt was fired because he couldn’t win the East when it was down his final three years after building up some negative points from 2008-2010. People seem to forget how hot the seat was after the 0-2 start in 2011. Sure, he would have been given more time if he’d won the SEC title in 2012, but he didn’t and the program had regressed again since.
And in 2012 he lost to….. You take Saban away and 2003 and 2012 are SEC Title years. You get the GA recruits Saban took on top of that and who knows what CMR’s resume looks like but its good enough that he wouldn’t have been forced out.
If it weren’t for Phil Fulmer in 2004 and 2007, those are SEC title years. If it weren’t for Urban Meyer, 2008 was. If it weren’t for Will Muschamp, 2014 was. If it weren’t for Georgia being mediocre in 2001, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2015, those are SEC title years. The point is that Richt’s failures were not isolated to Nick Saban, and any number of things could have happened to give him more time that didn’t.
Oh you mean it has to be ONLY about Saban or then it doesn’t matter. In that case, Saban’s had no impact on any coaching staffs anywhere, ever.
If, however, the standard is “some” impact then the list is significant.
Yes, I think something referred to as the “Saban Effect” should be primarily about Saban.
Yes. Thank you for arguing I’m wrong by saying what I said in my post. If he wins the SEC and MNC in 2012, then he is still our coach. He had a great team in 2012 that was not great enough to beat Alabama.
Yes he was hired to win a national championship. he didn’t do that.
You argued he was fired in large part because he lost in 2012, which is not true. He was fired for all of the other years after 2005. I simply acknowledged it would have bought him more time if he’d won that game.
The point is that if he wins it all in 2012 he survives the other issues. Everything isn’t black and white when it come to causation. Was he fired in 2015 because of a loss three years prior? No. But you turn that L into a W and a Natty and he survives the things that did lead to his ouster.
As Biggus Rickus alludes to above, you’ve got to remove some of the coaches from the equation because they weren’t outright fired from their jobs. Franklin and Kiffin left for other jobs, Petrino and Freeze were ousted by scandals, and Pinkel and Meyer cited health reasons.
Of the remaining coaches, you’d have to examine their overall win-loss records, not just the records against Alabama. Dooley at Tennessee and Croom at Miss St just had bad records, period. In Miles’ last few years, they were losing to Ole Miss or Arkansas in addition to Alabama, much like how Richt’s teams were losing to SC or Mizzou in addition to losing to Florida. So it wasn’t just an inability to beat Bama that did Miles in, but it certainly didn’t help.
Having Saban at Bama did ramp up the pressure on other coaches, but I think a bigger impact was how many SEC teams have played for and won the National Championship in the past decade. With LSU, Bama, Florida, and Auburn winning big, it makes the other fanbases think “why can’t our coach do that?” Anything less than a playoff berth is considered a failure at some places.
Pretty sure Corch’s heart palpitations occurred in Atlanta after Saban beat his ass and caused Timmy to cry.
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What’s the over/under on the new ailment diagnosis for Corch? I think he’ll either have a Harbaugh heart attack or a Franklin fistula.
Cogent observation MD. The not winning a nattie thing (or even playing for one) certainly was part of what got CMR. Particularly since all of our major rivals (FU, UT, Auburn, LSU and Bama) had won natties and in some cases multiple ones.
Ole Miss was on their way to competing with their eastern neighbors but they were to brash and stupid with their version of cheating. Alabamas cheating should be taught in business schools.
I just don’t get this narrative of Alabama only wins because they cheat when there is no evidence to support the claim.
Saban effect? One man that successfully got the sec to implode on itself. Convincing the leading programs of a conference to voluntarily destabilize from within.
True. All you have to do is look at LSU to see that.
Also, be wary of hiring a coach whose alma mater was another big-time program. There is a good chance you will be left high and dry.
I get the lack of patience at schools like UF and Tennessee and others. They look around and find the exceptions to the rule, where a new coach jumps in and affects an almost instant turnaround. So, they think that that’s the way it should be if you’ve gotten yourself a good coach.
It’ll be interesting to see what direction Tennessee goes if/when they fire the mighty boosh. I wonder if they’d take a crack at Derek Mason.
Tennessee is on the verge of traipsing off, once again, into the wilderness.
Their current leader has led them back to where he started.
The post-Fulmer era has found them searching but not finding the coach that lead them to where they have never really been destined for.
They must have a coach with the personality and charm to recruit outside of Tennessee, a state with slim pickin’s for high school talent.
Booch is not exactly that picture. Had they been able to keep Kiffen, I think he might have done very well.
Whoever replaces the good Sargent will have to deal with the ascension and recruiting prowess of CKS. Also Saban and Dabo and Jimbo…only to name a few programs that are “on track” and recruit Ga., the Carolinas, Fl and the rest of the SE.
They will need a big name and a great recruiter to MTGA.
Maybe they’ll turn to Freeze. Or Tubberville.
Either would be the Most Tennessee thing ever.
I don’t agree that the SEC HC changes had no effect on Alabama. Ole Miss hired Hugh Freeze and beat the Tide twice with bought players.
Saban raised the bar in the SEC, no doubt. But UGA’s issues run deeper than Saban. We’ve won the anemic East just twice since 2005, and we can’t blame Saban for that. And the Saban silver lining? We’ve got Kirby, who bought into his process and is changing UGA’s football culture. I already see enormous defensive depth, sound special teams, and a businesslike approach to each game. The last ingredient- a dominant offensive line- may be a year or so away, but clearly UGA is the present and future power in the East. So, thanks to Saban for the blueprint. I believe UGA is “next in line.”
Great post, 85.