Can't touch this: 20 incredible (and mostly unmatched) facts about Nick Saban's career
The legacy of Alabama head coach Nick Saban seems to grow with every victory. And with a win on Monday in the College Football Playoff Championship Game, Saban would add to the legacy even more.
But national championships are just part of the story when it comes to Saban.
Here are 20 of the most amazing things about his tenure at Alabama and his head coaching career overall:
20) 7 straight No. 1 recruiting classes
You can’t achieve the success Saban has had without players. And no one has recruited better than Saban over the years.
Since 2008, Alabama has had a top 5 recruiting class each year. And from 2011 through 2017, Saban’s classes were ranked No. 1 by 247sports.com. This year’s class is currently ranked No. 5, but the recruiting season isn’t over yet.
19) 30 consensus All-Americans
Not only has Saban recruited better than anyone, but he has developed that talent into some of the best players in college football.
Since 2008, Alabama has had 30 consensus All-Americans. No other school has had even half that many over that span. And of those 30, 17 were unanimous selections, also the most in the FBS since 2008.
18) 27 first-round NFL Draft picks
It has been a familiar cycle for Saban: bring in the best high school players, develop them into the best college players, then send them on to the NFL.
Including his years prior to Alabama, Saban has had 27 players selected in the first round of the draft. Since the advent of the common NFL Draft (1967), only two coaches have had more players selected in the first round — Bobby Bowden (35) and Joe Paterno (32).
Of Saban’s 27 first-round picks, 22 have come since he arrived at Alabama.
17) 7 straight 11-win seasons
In 2010, Alabama “struggled” to a 10-3 record. Since then, the Crimson Tide have 88 wins, including a current run of seven straight 11-win seasons, an SEC record. If you average it out, that’s nearly 13 wins a season (12.6) over the last seven years!
16) 40 straight non-conference regular-season wins
In 2007, Saban’s team went 1-2 vs. non-conference opponents in the regular season. Since then, Alabama has dominated non-SEC foes, going 4-0 against them every regular season for 10 straight years. The last non-SEC team to beat Alabama in regular-season play? Louisiana-Monroe in November 2007.
15) 9 losses in last 7 seasons
This season in college football, 22 FBS teams lost at least nine games, including five Power 5 schools. Since 2011, Alabama has lost A TOTAL of nine games. That’s an average of just over one loss a season (1.3).
14) Scored in first 44 quarters of 2017 season
While another national championship would certainly be the dominating stat for Alabama this season, as of right now, this might be its top note: In its first 11 games, Alabama scored in every quarter it played.
The streak ended in the first quarter of the Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Entering the CFP final, the Tide have scored in 48 of the 52 quarters they have played this season (92%).
13) 20 wins vs AP top 5 opponents
When Alabama took care of No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, it gave Saban his 20th career win vs. an AP top-5 team (and second this season). No other coach in FBS history has as many such wins.
Saban also has 76 wins against all AP-ranked opponents, which is third-most all-time, behind — again — Joe Paterno (86) and Bobby Bowden (82).
12) 21 shutouts since 2008
Alabama has two shutouts this season, giving the Tide 21 since the start of the 2008 season. No other FBS team comes close, with Ohio State next on the list with 13.
Alabama also has a current streak of seven straight seasons with at least two shutouts. That too is the longest active streak in the FBS.
11) 10 straight years in top 5 of SEC in scoring
Usually with Saban’s teams, especially at Alabama, the theme is defense, defense, defense.
However, it’s worth noting that Alabama also has the longest streak of ranking in the top 5 of the SEC in scoring — 10 straight years now, including this season (even a shutout loss in the national title game would drop the Crimson Tide only to fourth in the SEC in scoring).
The team with the next longest active streak of ranking in the SEC’s top 5 in scoring? Ole Miss, with three straight seasons.
10) 48 games holding opponents under 200 yards since 2008
The numbers just get more incredible when it comes to Alabama and defense. Over the last 10 seasons, the Tide have held 48 opponents under 200 total yards, including Clemson in Monday’s Sugar Bowl victory.
Not only does that average out to nearly five Alabama opponents a season failing to reach 200 yards, the next closest team on this list is 20 games behind — TCU (28).
The next closest SEC team on this list, Florida, has done it 22 times. That basically means for Florida to catch Alabama, the Gators would have to hold all of their opponents under 200 yards for two seasons!
9) 82 games allowing 1 or 0 TDs since 2008
Also over the last 10 seasons, Alabama has had 82 games in which it allowed 1 or 0 touchdowns by the opponent. That’s nearly 60 percent of its games. It probably goes without saying, but no other team in the FBS even comes close. LSU is second with 52 such games.
By the way, over the last 10 seasons, when Alabama allows 1 or 0 TDs in a game, it is 81-1, the lone loss coming in 2011 when the Tide lost 9-6 to LSU in overtime.
8) 7 wins vs. AP No. 1 teams
Monday’s win over No. 1 Clemson was the seventh for Saban against an AP top-ranked team. No other FBS coach in history has even four such wins.
7) 10 straight seasons ranked No.1
This is the 10th time in a row that Alabama has been ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press at some point during the season, the longest such streak in AP Poll history. The next closest team is Miami, which had a streak of seven such seasons from 1986-92.
6) 17 defensive touchdowns since 2015
In recent years, scoring off a turnover has become a staple of the Alabama defense.
Although it hasn’t happened as often this season (Monday’s INT return was just the second defensive TD of the season), the Crimson Tide have 17 defensive touchdowns over the last three seasons. That is easily the most by any team in the FBS over that span.
If you include return scores, then it’s 27 non-offensive touchdowns over the last three seasons.
5) 73-game win streak vs. unranked opponents
You have to go back to Saban’s first season in 2007 to find the last time Alabama lost to an unranked opponent (Louisiana-Monroe, again). Since that loss, it’s been 73 straight wins against opponents that come in unranked in the AP Poll.
4) 0 double-digit losses at home
Losses in Tuscaloosa have not happened often in Saban’s 11 seasons at Alabama. Just seven times, in fact.
Here’s a couple of facts on those home losses …
- Three of the seven occurred in Saban’s first season
- None of the seven were by double digits
- The combined point differential was 32 points (4.6 per game)
3) Going for 5th national title in 9-season span
Saban has won four national championships at Alabama, all of them since the 2009 season.
A win on Monday would give Alabama its fifth national title in nine seasons. That would easily be the shortest span needed to reach five national titles.
Currently, the shortest span needed to reach five national titles for one school was 16 seasons, by Alabama, coached by Bear Bryant, from 1964-79.
2) 11-0 vs. former assistant coaches
Saban will face his former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart in the CFP final, providing Saban an opportunity to add to this impressive statistic. Saban’s average margin of victory in going 11-0 against former assistants is 14 points per game.
1) Going for national championship No. 6
Whether or not you consider Saban the greatest college football coach in history, a sixth national championship would certainly provide more ammunition for the Saban supporters. That would put Saban only one behind Bear Bryant, with no signs of slowing down.