You wouldn't have to think very hard to wonder who the most dominant college football team has been for the past decade. There isn't even a question. It's Alabama.
How have the Crimson Tide been able to stay so consistently great despite the turnover inherent in college sports? That would be thanks to head coach Nick Saban, who revived his career and cultivated a new reputation at Alabama. Once known as a good college coach who was unable to translate that success to the NFL, his work with the Tide turned him into a 6-time college football champion and a legend of the game.
Good college football coaches can make quite a bit of money, thanks in no small part to the NCAA's refusal to pay their athletes. If Nick Saban is arguably the best, how much has his coaching career made him worth?
Nick Saban Net Worth
It's hardly a surprise. Saban has been a head coach at the Division I league since the 1990s, working his way through assistant positions in the 70s and 80s with NFL stints between all this. He worked his way up to being the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA.
What Is Nick Saban's Current Salary?
For the 2018 season, Nick Saban is set to make a whopping $7.5 million. And he's set to make far more than that for the duration of his contract.
This is actually less than the $11 million he made in 2017, but that was due to a signing bonus of $4 million. Last year was the first in a giant contract extension that was set to pay Saban $65 million to coach Alabama through 2024.
That first year of the extension also saw Saban's Alabama team win an incredible National Championship Game in overtime for his 5th Alabama championship. Several months later, Alabama added another year to his extension, keeping him on board through 2025.
Nick Saban Career
Saban didn't spend very long playing college football before finding his way into the world of coaching. He didn't make much noise as a defensive back playing for Kent State, but he impressed his head coach Don James enough that he hired Saban as an assistant coach when he was attending grad school.
This kickstarted Saban's tenure as a journeyman defensive-backs coach in college, coaching for Syracuse and West Virginia in the 70s, as well as stints with Ohio State, Navy and Michigan State in the 80s.
His first stint in the NFL was brief, working as a defensive-backs coach for the Houston Oilers. It was late 1989 that he got his first head coaching job, agreeing to be the coach for the University of Toledo. He saw great success there in his first season, leading the team to a 9-2 record. But after just one season, he left to rejoin the NFL as the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, under Tom Brady's current head coach Bill Belichick.
Nick Saban & Michigan State
Saban's tenure as the DC for the Browns impressed enough that in 1995, he returned to Michigan State as their head coach. Saban took over after an academic scandal involving grade tampering led to the firing of coach George Perles and forfeiting all their 1994 victories.
The first three seasons of Saban's tenure saw them lose their bowl game but steadily make improvements each time. After a regression in 1998, the Spartans broke out in a big way in 1999 with a 10-2 record and a victory against Florida in the Citrus Bowl.
This wasn't, however, Saban's first bowl game victory. By the time Michigan State was in the Citrus Bowl, Saban had already resigned from Michigan State to become the next head coach of LSU.
Nick Saban & LSU
It was at LSU that Saban's stature as a head coach started to really rise. The team went 8-4 in his first season, winning the Peach Bowl.
The height of Saban's LSU run was 2003. With just a single loss in the regular season, LSU was picked by the BCS to face No. 1 ranked Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, which was to be the BCS Championship Game that year. LSU pulled off the upset, defeating them 21-14 for Saban's first ever college football championship.
Saban left after the next season, as the football coach dream was achieved: He was hired at the NFL level to become a head coach, for the Miami Dolphins.
Nick Saban & Miami Dolphins
His career with the Dolphins started promisingly. A late winning streak in the 2005 season for the Dolphins led to a 9-7 finish, where they contended for a playoff spot.
This caused high expectations for 2006. But every quarterback they started that season struggled mightily, which led to a 6-10 season and no playoffs.
The second half of the season was also plagued with rumors that, with a new head coaching vacancy at Alabama, Saban would be targeted to fill the position. Saban continued throughout the season to deny it and maintained that he would continue to coach the Dolphins.
Nick Saban & Alabama
So much for that. Almost immediately following the end of the NFL regular season, it was announced that Nick Saban would be the new head coach of Alabama.
His first season at Alabama was a bit underwhelming as the team went 6-6 before a victory in the Independence Bowl. 2008, though, was the ascension Saban and Alabama fans had been looking for. The team went 12-0 in the regular season, and though they were defeated in the SEC Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl, it became clear that Saban's Crimson Tide was not a team to take lightly.
No one took them lightly in 2009, his most successful year yet. After another undefeated regular season, this time they did not fall in the playoffs. Facing another undefeated team, Texas, in the BCS National Championship Game, Alabama handily defeated them 37-21, and Saban was once again on top of the college football world.
After a comparatively lesser season in 2010, Alabama won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012, each in dominant fashion. The 2011 Championship Game saw them shut out his former team, LSU; the 2012 game was a blowout of Notre Dame, 42-14.
Alabama was still a dominant team in 2013 and 2014, but each one saw back-to-back losses in the Sugar Bowl as other teams received the national spotlight. But the 2015 season saw them make the first of, this far, three straight BCS Championship Games. A tough game saw Alabama come out on top 45-40 against Clemson, Saban's 4th Alabama championship. A repeat match-up in the next year's BCS Championship Game saw a stunning loss for Alabama, as Clemson came back for a 35-31 victory.
2017 was Alabama's biggest nail biter yet in a Championship Game. Georgia shut them out in the first half and Saban made a risky quarterback change to start the second half. But the risk paid off, as Alabama came back to force the game into overtime, where they won 26-23.
By this point, Saban had firmly established himself as a college coaching legend, a mainstay at the top of AP polls and at the BCS Championship Game. 2018 was no different. They finished the regular season ranked #1 and made the Championship Game for the 4th consecutive year - and for the third time in those 4 years, they would be facing Clemson. Unlike in past matchups, though, Alabama was surprisingly unable to even keep the game close. Clemson steamrolled the Tide 44-16 for another championship.
Nick Saban House
Nick Saban's house is so nice that, according to ESPN, it's an integral part of the recruiting process for Alabama. Per the article, the house is 8,759 square feet and sits on nearly two acres of land. Residing in Tuscaloosa County, Saban and his wife have security on the premises as well.
One room, referred to as the "recruiting lounge," features a big screen TV and ping-pong table. Outside are golf carts in the driveway that can be used to get to a nearby lake. It's a pretty good sell, and the biggest part of it for many aspiring athletes is to be able to experience this with Nick Saban.