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Nicholas Lou "Nick" Saban (born October 31, 1951) is the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide college football team. Saban has previously served as head coach of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and three other NCAA universities: LSU, Michigan State and Toledo. His eight-year contract for a total of $32 million made him one of the highest paid college football coaches in the United States at the time. He appeared on the September 1, 2008 cover of Forbes magazine as "Sports' most powerful coach". Saban's career record as a collegiate head coach is 122–50–1.[a]

In three years at Alabama, Saban has led the Crimson Tide to two SEC Western Division Championships, its first consecutive undefeated regular seasons since 1973-74, and the team's first Sugar Bowl since 1993, while accumulating a record of 31–8.[a]

Assistant football coach

Saban was an assistant coach at Kent State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy and Michigan State in NCAA Division I-A, and with the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns in the National Football League. Saban is considered part of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, having worked under him at Cleveland.

Head football coach


Saban was hired to lead the Toledo Rocketsmarker in 1990. Coming off of 6–5 seasons in both 1988 and 1989, the Rockets found quick success under Nick Saban by going 9–2. The two games that the Rockets lost that season came by narrow margins: one point to Central Michiganmarker, and four points to Navy. With the 9–2 season, Toledo was co-champion of the Mid-American Conference. Saban left Toledo after one season to become defensive coordinator of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns under then head coach Bill Belichick.

Michigan State

When Saban arrived in East Lansing, Michiganmarker prior to the 1995 season, MSU had not had a winning season since 1990, and the team was sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting violations committed under his predecessor, his former mentor, George Perles.

  • 1995–1997 – Beginning in 1995, Saban moderately improved MSU's fortunes, taking the Spartans to minor bowl games (all of which they lost by double-digit margins) in each of his first three seasons. From 1995 to 1997, Michigan State finished 6–1, 6–6, and 7–5. In comparison, MSU had finished 5–6, 6–6 and 5–6 (prior to NCAA forfeits) in 1992–1994.

  • 1998 – On November 7, 1998, the Spartans upset the #1 ranked Ohio State 28–24 at Ohio Stadiummarker. However, even after the upset and an early-season rout of then-highly-ranked Notre Dame the Spartans finished 6–6, including three last-minute losses featuring turnovers, defensive lapses, and special-teams misplays, and failed to earn a bowl invitation.

  • 1999 – Saban led the Spartans to a 9–2 season that included wins over Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Conversely, the two losses were routs at the hands of Purdue and Wisconsin. Following the final regular-season game against Penn State, Saban abruptly resigned to accept the head coaching position with LSU. Saban's assistant head coach and successor, Bobby Williams, then coached MSU to a Citrus Bowl victory over Florida, giving the Spartans an overall record of 10–2 for the 1999 season. It would be the best season in terms of wins for the Spartans since 1965, and it would see the Spartans reach their highest ranking since the 1966 team.

Louisiana State

In November 1999, Louisiana State Universitymarker named Nick Saban their 31st head football coach.

  • 2001 – Saban led LSU to a 10–3 record, including an SEC Championship and a Sugar Bowl victory. After a loss to the Ole Miss Rebels, the Tigers closed out the year with six straight wins, including a win over #2 Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship Game, and a 47–34 win over Illinois in the 2002 Sugar Bowl. It was the first outright SEC championship for LSU since 1986, and the first time the Tigers had won the Sugar Bowl since 1968.

  • 2002 – The season opened with high expectations, but a 26–8 loss at the hands of Virginia Tech raised serious questions about their outlook. However, the Tigers would rebound to win their next six straight, but after a mid-season injury to quarterback Matt Mauck, LSU lost four of their last six games to close the season, including a 35–20 loss to Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and finished 8–5.

  • 2003 – The Tigers started this season with five wins, including a 17–10 victory in Tiger Stadiummarker over the defending SEC champion, and then undefeated, Georgia Bulldogs. They lost the following week to Florida, 19–7. After the loss to Florida, LSU did not lose again in the regular season and ended their regular season with a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks to win the SEC West. After winning the SEC West, the Tigers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. They were ranked #2 in the BCS standings and advanced to play the #1Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl, which was the host of the BCS Championship Game in 2003. The Tigers won the game 21–14. LSU became national champions for only the second time in school history, and for the first time since Paul Dietzel and Billy Cannon led the Tigers to the 1958 National Championship.

Miami Dolphins

Nick Saban accepted the job of head coach for the Miami Dolphins on December 25, 2004.

  • 2005 – The season and the Nick Saban era officially kicked off with a 34–10 win against the Denver Broncos. From there, however, the Dolphins struggled, losing seven of their next nine games to fall to 3–7. The two wins came over the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, a game that took place in Tiger Stadiummarker due to Hurricane Katrina. After a frustrating two months, however, the Dolphins would rally late in the season, as they won their final six games, including a win to end the season in Foxboro, Massachusettsmarker over the New England Patriots. The team finished the year 9–7, and narrowly missed the playoffs in Saban's first season.

  • 2006 – Going into the 2006 season, the Dolphins were expected to contend for a playoff spot. The season, however, turned out to be a major disappointment. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper never recovered from his devastating knee injury from the previous season, and was ultimately benched after the fourth game of the season, when the Dolphins lost to the Houston Texans. Culpepper was eventually put on Injured Reserve. After starting the season 1–6, however, the Dolphins got hot. They won four straight games, including wins over the Chicago Bears, who were then unbeaten, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Suddenly, the Dolphins were back in the playoff hunt at 5–6, but a 24–10 loss the following week to the Jacksonville Jaguars all but ended their playoff hopes. The Dolphins would rebound the following week with a 21–0 win over the New England Patriots. The win would be the last bright spot for the Dolphins in the 2006 season. Quarterback Joey Harrington was eventually benched in favor of third-string quarterback Cleo Lemon. While the defense was very good, the offense was anemic, with the only bright spot being Ronnie Brown, who gained over 1,000 rushing yards on the season. The Dolphins would lose their next two games to the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets to fall to 6–10 on the season. This was Saban's first losing season as a head coach.

On November 27, 2006, The University of Alabamamarker announced that head coach Mike Shula had been dismissed. Nick Saban was rumored to be at the top of Alabama's wish list, but Saban refused to discuss the job while his NFL season was still underway. During the month of December 2006, Saban was repeatedly questioned by the media about the Alabama job, and he repeatedly denied the rumors in his weekly press conferences, adamantly stating on December 21 "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." Saban did eventually meet with Alabama officials on January 1, 2007, following the Dolphins' season ending loss to the Indianapolis Colts.


  • 2007 – Nick Saban announced on January 3, 2007 that he accepted an offer to become Alabama's 27th head coach, following a meeting with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga. On January 4, 2007, Nick Saban was officially introduced as the head football coach of The University of Alabama at a press conference on the Alabama campus. On September 1, 2007, his Crimson Tide opened the season with a 52–6 win over the Western Carolina Catamountsmarker, scoring more points than during any game in the 2006 season. He became the fifth Alabama coach since 1900 to start his first season 3–0, earning a win over then-ranked #16 Arkansas Razorbacks. However, Alabama ended the regular season with a 6–6 record, including a 4 game losing streak and a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, the Tide's 6th straight. However, the Tide defeated Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl, 30–24, to end the year 7–6, Alabama's second winning season in the last five years.

  • 2008 – During only his 2nd year as head coach of the Tide, Nick Saban established himself further, taking his team from a sub-par season before to a perfect 12-0 regular season record. Saban finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in his career as a head coach as he led the Crimson Tide to its first undefeated regular season since 1994. His second season at the Capstone began with a 34–10 victory over the #9 ranked Clemson Tigers in the 2008 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff in the Georgia Domemarker. Three weeks later, Alabama had a convincing 49-14 road-win over Arkansas. The Tide followed that victory with an impressive 41–30 win over the #3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. After the Georgia game, the Tide won consecutive home games against the Kentucky Wildcats and the Ole Miss Rebels and finished the month of October with a 29–9 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxvillemarker. Following a 35–0 homecoming victory over Arkansas State, the Crimson Tide became #1 in all major polls in Week 10—following a loss by #1 Texas to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It was the first time since the 1980 season that Alabama held the top spot during the regular season. The Tide took their No. 1 ranking into Baton Rouge, Louisianamarker, and came out with a 27-21 overtime victory. With the win, Alabama clinched their first SEC Western Division Championship since 1999 and guaranteed the team a trip to the 2008 SEC championship game. The Tide then improved to 11-0 with a win at home over Mississippi State. To finish the regular season, Alabama defeated in-state rival Auburn 36–0—the largest margin of victory in the series since 1962. It was Alabama's first victory over Auburn since the 2001 season. In the SEC Championship Game, Alabama suffered its first defeat in a 31–20 loss to the SEC Eastern Division Champion Florida Gators (who later won the 2008 BCS Championship), and closed out the season with a 31-17 loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. For his efforts during the season, Saban received several Coach of the Year awards.

  • 2009 - Beginning his 3rd year, #5 Alabama defeated the #7 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2009 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff 34–24. He followed up with wins over Florida International and North Texas. The following week, Alabama won its conference opener over Arkansas 35-7. In its fifth game of the year, Alabama beat Kentucky 38-20. The sixth game of the season featured a hard-fought defensive battle with Bama defeating Ole Miss 22-3. The seventh game was the same with Alabama defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks 20-6. The next day, Alabama moved up to #1 in the AP poll for the 2nd straight year. The next week, Alabama beat Tennessee 12-10, when Terrence Cody blocked Tennessee's game winning field goal attempt with 4 seconds left, sealing the victory, going 8-0. After a bye week, Alabama clinched its 2nd straight SEC West Division Championship by knocking off LSU 24-15. The next week, Alabama trounced Mississippi State 31-3, sealing the second straight season with 10 wins for Alabama. Following a 45-0 blowout of Chattanooga, on Black Friday, Alabama came from behind to defeat Auburn 26-21 marking the first time since 1973-74 Alabama has finished the regular season undefeated in consecutive years.


Return to college football

Saban's decision to return to college football was met with a great deal of criticism from both the NFL and college football realms. Saban was referred to as a "liar" by ESPN's Pat Forde. Saban replaced fired coach Mike Shula, who is former Dolphins coach Don Shula's son. When asked whether Saban was "a raging fraud", Hall of Fame coach Don Shula responded, "What other conclusion can you draw? The guy likes to hear himself talk and then doesn't follow up on what he says." Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga has refused to publicly criticize Saban over the move.

On the other hand, 5-time Dolphin pro-bowler Jason Taylor has a different view of his former head coach. He was quoted in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Mike Silver, who wrote, "Taylor is more charitable toward Nick Saban, the Dolphins coach who in January bolted to Alabamamarker only two years into a five-year contract, after repeatedly denying that he was interested in the Crimson Tide job.""I loved Nick, I thought he was great. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but I was his kind of guy. Yeah, his decision was selfishly based, but at the end of the day, isn't everybody going to take the best job that's available? Find me one NFL head coach who didn't lie last year. I don't want to get too political, but we're in a war based on false pretenses. We have problems in this nation with health care and affordable housing, and how many politicians have lied about that? And people want to freak out because Nick Saban wouldn't coach a football team?"

On Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama he said to the Crimson Tide Fan Base "I know you have great expectations for you football team, but i can assure you that mine are higher"


On January 3, 2007, Saban met with members of the Miami media following his introductory press conference at the University of Alabama. During an off-the-record portion of this meeting, Saban used the term "coonass" while relaying a story told to him by a member of the LSU board of trustees. It is unclear whether the term was used by the LSU official, then quoted by Saban, or Saban used the term in an effort to put the story in proper context. The term coonass is regarded as a badge of ethnic pride by some members of the Cajun community, however it is considered a slur by others. Therefore, Saban soon explained, "The term in question is not language that I use or condone, and I can understand how some would take offense." Saban and many University of Alabamamarker officials were upset that the recording was released by the media due to the fact that Saban had told the reporters that they were off the record.

Louisiana-Monroe loss

On November 19, 2007 Nick Saban at a press conference after a loss to underdog Louisiana-Monroemarker stated, "Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9–11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event." A spokesperson for him said, "What Coach Saban said did not correlate losing a football game with tragedy...The message was that true spirit and unity become evident in the most difficult of times. Those were two tremendous examples that everyone can identify with."

Head coaching record


Saban resigned 11/30/99. Williams coached bowl game.

National Football League

Year Team Record Standings Post-season
2005 Miami Dolphins 9–7 2nd, AFC East
2006 6–10 4th, AFC East
Total 15–17

Personal life

Saban was born in Fairmontmarker, West Virginiamarker. He is married to Terry Saban (née Constable) from West Virginia. They have two children, Nicholas and Kristen.

Nick may be a distant cousin of the late Lou Saban, a former NFL player and coach, and one time President of the New York Yankees.

Saban graduated from Kent State Universitymarker in , where he played defensive back for the football team. Saban and a roommate avoided being amidst the infamous Kent State shootingsmarker when they decided to eat lunch before walking to the rally area.

Saban owns a vacation home on Lake Burtonmarker in Northeast Georgiamarker, where he has said he would like to retire.

He's of Croat origins. Bill Belichick, with whom Nick Saban has excellent relations, said, when speaking about him and Saban: "Two successful Croats in the same division of NFL. You must admit, you don't see that every day."

Saban made a cameo apperance as himself in the movie "The Blind Side".


  1. ^The NCAA ruled that Alabama must vacate 21 victories due to sanctions stemming from textbook-related infractions.
  2. The University is appealing the ruling.
  3. If the appeal is unsuccessful, five overall wins and three conference victories from Saban's first year as Alabama's head coach will be officially vacated.


  1. Infractions Case: Michigan State University, NCAA Register, October 7, 1996. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  2. After repeated denials, Saban takes Bama job, News Services, January 4, 2007
  3. University of Alabama-Press Conference Transcript (January 4, 2006)
  4. - ESPNRADIO - ESPN Radio Clip - ESPNRADIO - ESPN Radio Clip Archive (January 5, 2007)
  5. Saban Leaves Dolphins for
  6. Jutarnji list Još jedan trener hrvatskih korijena , Feb 22, 2007

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