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Back to the Beginning: Nick Saban Selected to MAC HOF

Nick Saban
© Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK

Nick Saban has never been a stranger to winning. As a quarterback at Monongah High School, he led the Lions to a West Virginia state championship in 1968. This marked the humble beginning of a career full of accolades and to being considered the best coach in college football history.

Rarely do we get to see the origins of a hall-of-fame career. Even more rare is getting to watch it unfold in front of the nation. For many football fans, the name Nick Saban has sparked joy or loathing in their college football weekends. The numbers and names on the jerseys proved a formidable foe for opponents but it was the diminutive leader that cast the biggest shadow across opposing sidelines and fan bases. 

Saban has roamed a sideline for most, if not, all of our lives. His recent retirement feels like the start of a different era for college football. It also begins the well-deserved recognition tour for former Alabama coach. The Mid-American Conference is up first, electing Saban and five others into the 2024 MAC Hall of Fame.

The 2024 MAC Hall of Fame inductions are scheduled for May 30 at the Marriott Key Tower in Cleveland. 


The Golden Flash

For those who understand the rivalry, there are few circumstances where an Akron Zip would say anything positive about Kent State University. In the case of Saban, this writer will make an exception. Saban was recruited to be a quarterback with Kent State and switched to safety early in his first year. After a couple of down seasons in 1970 and 1971, it was the 1972 season that ended with a MAC Championship. Still the only overall MAC title the Golden Flashes can claim.

Saban took to his natural coaching knack immediately following graduation and accepted a graduate assistant job with the Golden Flashes. Two seasons later he was moved to coaching linebackers before accepting the same position with Syracuse University.

Saban was inducted into the Kent State Varsity K Hall of Fame in 2015.


The Head Coach

Saban returned to the MAC in 1990 after accepting the coaching position at the University of Toledo. His impact as a Rocket was immediate as they boasted a 9-2 record and share of a MAC title with Central Michigan. The Rockets’ magic was short-lived as the following year Saban accepted the defensive coordinator position with Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns.

Nick Saban
© Lansing State Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK

The next stop of Saban’s career was at Michigan State University. He led the Spartans to a 23-16-1 Big Ten Conference record and multiple bowl-game appearances during his stint before accepting a job at Louisiana State University. Saban became a perennial power with LSU boasting a 48-16 record overall and winning the first of his seven National Championships.

After continued success in the Bayou, the Miami Dolphins gave Saban a shot to coach in the NFL. However, Saban quickly realized his place in the coaching world belongs at the collegiate level. The University of Alabama offered Saban the job that would scribe his name in the annals of college football history. After a 17-year stranglehold on college football supremacy, Saban finished his historic career at Alabama with 201 wins to 29 losses. Adding six more National Championships to cement his legacy into the game forever.


Nick Saban’s Future

For over 30 years Saban has been an integral name and force in college football. Despite leaving the sidelines Saban’s impact will continue to be felt by the college football universe. He is still an active voice in college football even speaking to Congress recently about NIL and its effects on college football. Saban is also slated to join ESPN's College Game Day cast this upcoming season.

Whether his face is plastered across the television screen on a gameday Saturday or running amuck in an Aflac commercial with Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders, there are a few things to be certain about. There are numerous halls of fame and accolades awaiting Saban. The name Nick Saban will still be a household name on football Saturdays. Lastly, even though there will be no score to be kept, rest assured Saban will continue winning.

1 Comment

Another excellently written article by Ryan Johnson. It was insightful, somewhat humorous at times, but expertly done.

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