Alabama athletic director Bill Battle recently compared Nick Saban and Bear Bryant, the one comparison that continues to fuel graveyards in the state of Alabama. Battle played under Bryant in Tuscaloosa from 1960-62, and he was the head coach at Tennessee from 1970-76. So, he has more than enough ground to stand on, and people listen when he talks.
Battle thinks – wait for it – that Saban is accomplishing things that have never been done before, but he kindly beats around the official comparison between the two coaches by saying Saban is dominating ‘another time where competition has never been greater’, via AP. He doesn’t say Saban is a better coach, because it’s a no-win statement or argument.
“I think what they’ve done is unprecedented,” Battle said. “I have admired what they’ve done from afar, and for the last few months, have admired what they do up front. Coach Saban has got a great program going. He is as focused and intense a guy as I’ve ever been around. Everything that they do, they peel back all the layers to get down to what needs to be done as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.
“What coach Bryant did was unprecedented at the time, I think,” said Battle. “This is a different time. I don’t think that competition has ever been greater in the history of college football than it is today. I think from that reference, there are a lot of people that are putting a lot of money into football and all sports.
“That hasn’t happened in the past as much as it has today.”
The money and competition have never been greater. But – to me – Saban has already out-Beared Bryant.
What Battles’ comments are getting at, but never officially say, is that word I love called parity.
In an era of college football where so there’s so much parity, and where the SEC is at its apex, Saban continues destroying rival programs, ending head coaching tenures and breaking coaches’ desires to continue leading teams in the SEC. (You hear me Urban Meyer?)
More prospects are staying home at State U rather than traveling cross-country to a select number of programs that will play on TV. They all play on TV, so more top recruits are choosing to stay home – not to mention every SEC program is recruiting lights-out during this SEC golden age, making it tougher to beat the best players and coaches year after year in the SEC.
Saban is accomplishing all this during a time in college football with limited number of scholarships (85) and more coaching and player turnover than Bryant ever saw.
Saban can beat your best team. And once he beats your team, he could then take your team and beat his team with you coaching it. How many other coaches can do that?
Photo Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports