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College Football Playoffs Up Close: Nick Saban, Christian Head Coach of The Alabama Crimson Tide

( [email protected] ) Dec 31, 2015 01:43 AM EST
Despite his prickly nature, Nick Saban is a devoted Catholic and family man, now on the verge of winning his fifth national championship as a college head coach.
Nick Saban. Sean Gardner/Reuters

Today is the day, the start of the 2015 College Football Playoff. Leading up to the start of the college football playoff format, now in its second year, the Gospel Herald is taking a look at all four head coaches in an effort to learn more about each man's character and personality as they lead the young men in their charge toward a possible national championship. We've already focused on Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Oklahoma head coach, Bob Stoops, and Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. Today, we focus on Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Nick Saban
Head Coach, Alabama Crimson Tide
Record 98-18 at Alabama, 189-60-1 Overall

As collegiate head coaches go, Nick Saban needs no introduction. Seriously, at this point who doesn't know about Saban's track record, winning four BCS National Championships, one with LSU and three more with Alabama, recruiting and coaching the only two Heisman Trophy winners in Alabama Crimson Tide history, and earning a reputation as one of the hardest-working task-masters in sports.

Saban is also well-known for being one of the highest-paid coaches in collegiate sports, for his, sometimes, prickly relationship with the sports media, and for being one of the most influential coaches in sports. In fact, Saban made the September 2008 cover of Forbes magazine as "The Most Powerful Coach in Sports".  

One of the criticisms of Saban over the years has been his tendency to bounce around from job to job. He arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007 after two unsuccessful years as the head coach of the NFL's Miami Dolphins. Going on nine years, the time Saban has spent at Alabama is by far the longest stretch of his career either as an assistant coach or a head coach. His resume is almost a mile long. 

After graduating from Kent State in 1972, Saban spent two years as a graduate assistant and assistant coach at his Alma Mater, before moving on to assistant coaching roles at Syracuse, Ohio State, Navy, Michigan State, and the Houston Oilers, for no more than two seasons, with the exception of Michigan State where he spent four seasons from 1983-87. He then spent one season, 1990, as the head coach of the Toledo Rockets before accepting another assistant coaching job with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1994. After Cleveland, it was back to the college head coaching ranks, spending five seasons each at Michigan State and LSU, then on to Miami. 

Even though he has spent the better part of a decade in Tuscaloosa, constant rumors surface annually as the top candidate for one premier head coaching job after another. Finally, in the summer of 2014, after several media outlets reported he turned down $100 million to be the next coach of the Texas Longhorns, Saban addressed his reputation for never sticking around long in one place in a statement during a press conference.  "We moved around a lot.  If I had to do it over, I'd have just tried to stay in one place and establish a great program, not have all these goals and aspirations of things that eventually, you know, you weren't happy doing," Saban said. 

As long as Saban has been in the public eye, he has managed to keep his personal life relatively private. He married his wife, Terry, in 1971, and the couple has two children, Nicholas, and Kristen. Saban is a devout Catholic, attending Mass before games and are members of the St. Francis of Assisi University Parish. Before his transfer, St. Francis of Assisi's priest, Father Gerald Holloway served as the team chaplain for the Tide. 

In 1998, Saban and his wife, Teri, established Nick's Kids Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and resources to organizations helping children and families throughout the Southeast. The organization's website, nickskidsfoundation.org states the purpose of Nicks Kids is "to work together in the spirit of faith and giving in our community. To promote and support children, family, teacher and student causes. It's all about the kids!" To date, Nick's Kids has raised and distributed over $6 million to hundreds of charities. 

The Crimson Tide face Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl today at 8 p.m. EST.  

Tags : College Football Playoff Championship, Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide, Alabama Crimson Tide Head Coach, football, Sports, christian sports coaches