Nick Saban Named Head Football Coach at The University of Alabama

  • January 3rd, 2007
New UA Head Football Coach Nick Saban speaks to the media at his introductory press conference.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Nick Saban, head coach of the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins for the past two seasons, has been named the 27th head football coach of The University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban has compiled a record of 106-59-1 (.642) in 13 seasons as a head coach, having also led programs at Louisiana State (LSU), Michigan State and Toledo.

Saban will be introduced at a 10 a.m. CST press conference on Thursday, Jan. 4, in the Naylor Stone Media Room in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Building on the UA campus.

“I am pleased and proud to announce that Nick Saban is the new head football coach at The University of Alabama,” Moore said. “When I set out on this search, I noted that I was seeking a coach who has a proven record of championship success and achievement. Coach Saban brings that proven record of accomplishment and leadership to our program. The hiring of Coach Saban signifies a new era of Crimson Tide football and affirms our commitment to provide our student-athletes and fans with a leader who will continue our commitment to excellence across the board.”

Saban succeeds Mike Shula, who was dismissed on Nov. 27, 2006, after four seasons as head coach at the Capstone with a 26-23 (.531) record, including a 6-6 mark in 2006.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Coach Nick Saban and his family to The University of Alabama,” said Dr. Robert E. Witt, President of the University of Alabama. “We are confident that Coach Saban’s proven record as a head coach and his commitment to the success of our student athletes, on and off the field, combined with the best facilities in America and the passion of tens of thousands of Crimson Tide fans across the nation will lead to many years of success at the championship level.

“I’d also like to commend our athletics director, Mal Moore, for the way he conducted this search, and for its ultimate outcome. From the beginning, Coach Moore has acted with appropriate patience, integrity and respect for the individuals and organizations involved. Our announcement today underscores the quality of the process he followed and his dedication to finding the right coach for this university.”

A veteran head coach who has achieved resounding success on the college level with three programs, Saban has earned a reputation as an outstanding tactician, leader, organizer and motivator. Those qualities have sparked impressive turnarounds at every stop of his career. His teams have repeatedly exhibited grit, determination and resilience, often overcoming adversity to achieve victory. Saban’s consistent approach and disciplined leadership are a proven recipe for success.

During two seasons at the helm of the Miami Dolphins, Saban’s teams showed marked improvement over the unit he inherited. Taking over a team that finished 4-12 in 2004, Saban led the 2005 Dolphins to a 9-7 record, the third biggest turnaround in the NFL that season and the second highest victory turnaround for a Dolphins team in any non-strike season. Most impressively, the Dolphins finished 2005 on a six-game winning streak, the longest streak in the NFL that season.

Saban brings a 91-42-1 (.683) record as a college head coach to Tuscaloosa. His most recent college head coaching stint, a five-season run at LSU, produced a record of 48-16 (.750), one national championship (2003), two Southeastern Conference championships, three SEC West Division championships, and a 3-2 record in bowl games including two Sugar Bowl victories and a Peach Bowl win. The Tigers constructed a 28-12 (.700) record against SEC opponents under Saban’s guidance. He was named the 2003 National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and earned both the Paul W. “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award by the Football Writers Association of America. Saban was named SEC Coach of the Year twice (by the Birmingham News in 2001 and by the Associated Press in 2003).

Saban at LSU (2000-04)

Saban’s impact on the LSU program transcended the success on the field. LSU produced 84 Academic All-SEC honorees in Saban’s five seasons, including 25 members of the 2003 national championship squad. LSU’s graduation rate for football players improved dramatically under his watch and two players, offensive tackle Rodney Reed (2002 and 2003) and offensive lineman Rudy Niswanger (2004) earned First Team Academic All-America honors. Linebacker Bradie James earned a post-graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation in 2003.

Saban also spearheaded a $15 million fundraising effort to fund a new academic center for student-athletes at LSU, and he and his players were active in community involvement in the Baton Rouge area, taking part in community service projects, visiting schools to mentor children and taking time to visit local hospitals on a regular basis. More than 50 of Saban’s LSU players earned their college degrees, in addition to 28 who were selected in the NFL draft, including seven in 2004 and 2006.

Named head coach at LSU on November 30, 1999, Saban led an immediate turnaround of a program that had suffered through seven losing seasons during the 1990s. His 48 victories over five seasons were the third-most among Division 1-A head coaches during that time. Saban, Paul Dietzel and current LSU head coach Les Miles are the only coaches in the program’s history to post multiple 10-win seasons. Saban, Dietzel and Bernie Moore are the only head coaches in Tiger history to win two SEC championships.

Saban’s 2000 Tigers rebounded from two straight losing seasons to post an 8-4 season, capped by a 31-20 win over 15th-ranked Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl. Home victories over Tennessee, Mississippi State and Alabama highlighted the season, along with a key road win at Ole Miss.

The 2001 Tigers improved to 10-3 overall and won the program’s first outright SEC title since 1986 with a 31-20 win over second-ranked Tennessee in the SEC Championship game. An impressive second half against the Volunteers was a trademark of Saban’s coaching acumen as the Tigers outscored UT, 21-3, in the final half to erase a 17-10 deficit. The Tigers won the game despite the absence of starting quarterback Rohan Davey and running back LaBrandon Toefield. Sparked by one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, a unit that averaged 451.5 yards per game, the Tigers capped the season with a 47-34 defeat of Big Ten champion Illinois in the Sugar Bowl, LSU’s first victory in a New Year’s Day bowl game since 1968.

Stifling defense was the trademark of the 2002 Tigers. LSU posted an 8-5 record and a second consecutive New Year’s Day bowl appearance. The Tigers, who faced Texas in the Cotton Bowl, held opponents to less than 275 yards per game through the season’s first six games and scored a school-record 30 or more points in six straight games that season. The Tigers barely missed winning a second consecutive SEC West Division title as a last-minute comeback by Arkansas in the regular season finale prevented LSU from another appearance in the SEC Championship game. That LSU team overcame the mid-season loss of starting quarterback Matt Mauck, free safety Damien James and Toefield in successive weeks to make a run at an SEC West division title.

Saban’s team philosophy of “out of yourself and into the team” paid huge dividends in 2003. The Tigers produced a 13-1 record, won their second SEC championship and earned the school’s second national championship with a squad that was among the nation’s most dominant on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The LSU offense scored a school-record 475 points (33.9 points per game) while holding 13 of 14 opponents to fewer than 20 points. LSU’s defense ranked first nationally in points allowed per game (11.0) and total defense (252.0 yards per game). After a 7-1 start, LSU ended the season with six dominating victories by an average margin of 35-10. An impressive 34-13 victory over Georgia in the SEC title game paved LSU’s way to an appearance in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Championship Game against top-ranked Oklahoma. The Tigers produced a dominant defensive effort against the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl, limiting OU to 154 yards of total offense in a 21-14 victory that gave LSU the national title.

His final LSU team in 2004 overcame the loss of 13 players from the 2003 team who went on to NFL rosters, posting a 9-3 record while producing the SEC’s best rushing offense (200.7 yards per game). The Tiger defense ranked third nationally during the regular season in total defense (249.9 yards per game) and passing defense (145.4 yards per game), allowing only 15.9 points per contest. Over their last six games, the Tiger defense allowed only 12 points in the second half on the way to a berth in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando against Iowa. LSU’s fourth consecutive January bowl berth marked a first for the Tigers’ program.

Saban at Michigan State (1995-99)

Saban’s stint as head coach at Michigan State from 1995-99 marked his second stint at the East Lansing school, as he also spent 1983-87 as the Spartans’ defensive coordinator/secondary coach. After playing in just one bowl game in the previous four years, Michigan State made four postseason appearances in Saban’s five years at the helm. Saban led MSU to a 34-24-1 (.585) record as head coach.

In 1999, Saban led his final Spartan team to a No. 7 national ranking as MSU finished in a tie for second in the Big Ten. The Spartans defeated Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State in the same year for the first time since 1965 and recorded six wins at home for the first time since the 1912 season. The Spartans’ performance that year landed them a spot in the Citrus Bowl. The Spartans led the Big Ten in rushing defense (77.0 yards per game) and total defense (299.0 yards per game) while ranking fifth nationally in rushing defense and 11th in total defense. The Spartans offense averaged 31.0 points per game.

Saban was the first coach in school history to put the Spartans in postseason bowl games in each of his first three seasons as he led the Spartans to the Independence Bowl in 1995, the Sun Bowl in 1996 and the Aloha Bowl in 1997.

Saban with the Cleveland Browns (1991-94)

Before joining the Spartans, Saban spent four seasons (1991-94) as defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick. The Browns went from allowing the most points (462) in the NFL prior to Saban’s arrival to allowing the fewest points (204) in the league in 1994, the sixth-fewest points surrendered in NFL history at the time. In each of Saban’s four years guiding the Browns’ defense, they never permitted an average of more than 19.2 points per game. He built a reputation as one of the finest defensive coaches in the league and also was heavily involved in the team’s player personnel and scouting process.

Saban at Toledo (1990)

Saban’s first head coaching position came at the University of Toledo in 1990, as he guided the Rockets to a record of 9-2 that year, finishing as co-champions of the Mid-American Conference. The Rockets ranked among the NCAA leaders in both total defense (12th at 284.8 yards) and scoring defense (16th at 16.2 points), and missed posting an undefeated record by a mere five points.

His Early Coaching Days

Saban joined Toledo after serving as secondary coach with the Houston Oilers for two seasons under Jerry Glanville (1988-89), his first NFL coaching position. He quickly made an impact on the Oilers’ defense, as the team’s secondary tied for fourth in the AFC in 1988 with 21 interceptions and tied for second in the conference in 1989 with 22. In his first stint at Michigan State, Saban served as secondary coach and defensive coordinator under George Perles from 1983 through 1987. Saban played an integral part in helping the Spartans to three postseason bowl appearances, including a Big Ten championship in 1987 and a 20-17 victory over Southern California in the 1988 Rose Bowl. Michigan State led the nation in rushing defense in 1987, allowing only 61.2 yards per game, and ranked second in scoring defense, permitting just 12.4 points.

Personal Info and Community Service

A native of Fairmont, W.Va., Saban is a 1973 graduate of Kent State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. He earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Kent State in 1975. Born October 31, 1951, Saban and his wife, the former Terry Constable, have two children, Nicholas and Kristen.

Saban also is a published author. He co-authored “Tiger Turnaround” in 2001, a book documenting his first two years as head coach at LSU, and co-authored “How Good Do You Want to Be” in 2005, a book that offers real-life principles for success at work and at home. In addition to his work as a fundraiser for LSU’s Student-Athlete Academic Center, Saban and his wife, Terry, supported several charitable and civic projects in Louisiana. The largest of those efforts was with the Children’s Miracle Network, for which Terry and Nick raised more than $100,000 a year for children. At Michigan State, Saban started the “Nick’s Kids” Foundation, which the Sabans continued in South Florida.

Year by Year with Nick Saban

As A Head Coach

Year     Team                Season      Conference    
1990     Toledo              9-2         7-1 (1st)
1995     Michigan State      6-5-1       4-3-1 (5th)
1996     Michigan State      6-6         5-3 (5th)
1997     Michigan State      7-5         4-4 (6th)
1998     Michigan State      6-6         4-4 (6th)
1999     Michigan State      9-2         6-2 (2nd)
2000     LSU                 8-4         5-3 (2nd in West)
2001     LSU                 10-3        5-3 (1st in West)
2002     LSU                 8-5         5-3 (1st in West)
2003     LSU                 13-1        7-1 (1st in West)
2004     LSU                 9-3         6-2 (2nd in West)
2005     Miami Dolphins      9-7
2006     Miami Dolphins      6-10
Total    13 Seasons          106-59-1 (.642)

As A Head Coach

School (Years)                        Record
LSU (2000-03)                         48-16 (.750)
Michigan State (1995-99)              34-24-1 (.585)
Toledo (1990)                         9-2 (.818)
Miami Dolphins (2005-06)              15-17 (.469)
Total                                 106-59-1 (.642)


Joseph Espy, President Pro Tempore of the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama

“I want to congratulate Mal Moore and Bob Witt on the magnificent outcome of their search for the next head football coach at The University of Alabama. From the outset, they pursued this goal with integrity, determination, and with the very best interests of the University as their top priority. Coach Nick Saban is a talented professional with an extraordinary record. We are particularly impressed by his emphasis on the academic success of student-athletes in his collegiate programs, especially at LSU. Alabama football is a significant economic engine for our state, and we look forward to a great season ahead for the Crimson Tide and its fans around the world.”

Antoine Caldwell, Offensive Lineman

“I am very excited. We have been through a period of uncertainty the last month or so and we finally have some stability. Coach Moore said all along he was going to find us a proven coach with winning record and he has done that with Coach Saban. I feel like he is the right man for the job and he will be good in getting Alabama back on track. I am not just saying this, but the Dolphins are my favorite NFL team and I watch them every week. I watch him on the sidelines and he is really into the game. He has a great knowledge of the game of football, plus he won a national championship at LSU. I think he is a good fit for us here at Alabama.”

Bobby Greenwood, Defensive Lineman

“I’m really excited. I took a recruiting trip to LSU and went to his several of his camps. He is a real down to business guy and he knows what he wants. He can get the very best out of his players and he works real hard. We had a lot of trust that Dr. Witt and Coach Moore would bring us the best coach possible and you can’t ask for anyone better than Coach Saban, who comes from the Miami Dolphins and brings a national championship from LSU. We are all excited.”

John Parker Wilson, Quarterback

“I’m very excited. All of the guys are very glad to have Coach Saban coming to Alabama. He has won a lot of football games and he won the national championship at LSU. That makes it even more exciting for us. We have a lot of guys coming back on offense and I think we have an excellent chance to make a run at it, especially with Coach Saban.”

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.