Former SEC coach: Nick Saban won't ever surpass Bear Bryant at Alabama
Entering his 10th season with Alabama, Nick Saban is already widely considered as one of the greatest college football coaches — if not the greatest — of all time. With a career record 191-60-1 and five national championships (four with the Crimson Tide), it’s hard to argue that statement.
Unless you’re Jackie Sherrill, that is.
Sherrill, who played linebacker and fullback for legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1962-65 and went on to coach Texas A&M (1982-88) and Mississippi State (1991-2003), among other schools, believes that Saban still comes second fiddle when it comes to all-time best Tide coaches.
“No, no – no one is ever going to surpass Bear Bryant,” Sherrill told GridironNow.com. “Nick Saban is really outstanding in many ways. One, he is a player’s coach. But a player’s coach isn’t someone that puts their arm around you and gets to know you. What is a player’s coach? It’s a coach that makes you do things you don’t want to do, and makes you accomplish things you don’t think you can accomplish.”
Saban has compiled a 100-18 record (.847 winning percentage) since taking over Alabama’s football program prior to the 2007 season, claiming four national titles over the last seven years. His teams have averaged 12.3 wins since his debut campaign.
In comparison, Bryant finished 232-46-9 (.808 winning percentage) with six titles of his own in 25 years at the helm — three of them coming in his first 10 years with the program. He coached the Crimson Tide until he was 68 years old.
Saban will turn 65 this fall.
“I can tell you the players don’t like Nick Saban every day and he may not like them at times, but that’s not an issue with Nick,” said Sherrill. “If you look at what he’s done as a football coach, I put him back in the old-school coaches because of whom he played for and coached under.
“The difference in the old coaches and the new coaches are that the old coaches knew the players, not the athlete. The new coaches only want to know the athlete – how fast, how big, what are their stats,” he continued. “The programs that want to get to know the players and spend time developing relationships with their families – they are the ones that are the most successful. The coaches who do not take time to develop these relationships are the ones having the most problems today with players off the field.”
Even at the rate of 12 wins per season, Saban would need to coach Alabama for another 10-plus years to match Bryant’s win total. That may not be realistic, but a few more championship rings before retirement is feasible over the next half decade. The Tide, of course, just brought in another No. 1 overall recruiting class and should once again begin the new season as a top-5 team with title aspirations.
Does Saban have what it takes to be considered the best coach ever? You be the judge.