Alabama head coach Nick Saban loves football, family, golf, boating, and much more
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has won seven national championships en route to establishing himself as the top college football coach in the game today, if not all time. Saban will turn 70 years old this Halloween but doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. A native of West Virginia and graduate of Kent State, Saban has been the head coach at Toledo (1990), Michigan State (1995-99), LSU (2000-04) and Alabama (2007-present) in the college ranks and the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) in the NFL.
Here are 10 other fun facts about Coach Nick Saban:
1. Signed contract extension at Alabama through 2025
Saban remains the highest-paid coach in college football. The deal pays Saban a $7.125-million base salary in 2018, with pay increases of $400,000 annually. Saban's new deal also includes a $4 million signing bonus, bumping his pay to $11.125 million in 2018 and $65 million over the duration of the deal. According to USA Today, Saban's buyout for firing without cause is a whopping $26.9 million. Saban's net worth is estimated to be around $60 million, but that number is going up even faster than his career win total of 170–23 at Alabama.
2. SEC means "Saban's Ex Coaches" these days
Saban's influence across the Southeastern Conference is immense. Currently, there are four SEC head coaches who have branched off from Saban's coaching tree — Georgia's Kirby Smart (who lost to Saban in the 2018 national title game), Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin, and Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt (the third Saban disciple to have the UT job, following Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley). And that's not counting Will Muschamp, who was fired from South Carolina in November. Other college coaches with Saban ties include Oregon's Mario Cristobal, Texas' Steve Sarkisian, Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins, Louisiana's Billy Napier, Maryland's Mike Locksley, and Central Michigan's Jim McElwain. Saban's NFL influence is shakier, as the Atlanta Falcons' Dan Quinn and New York Jets' Adam Gase both got the ax recently (and Jason Garrett did by Dallas last year), but Joe Judge is off to a promising start with the New York Giants.
3. Married childhood sweetheart and adopted two children
Saban married Terry Constable on Dec. 18, 1971. Saban, who affectionately refers to his wife as "Miss Terry," met the future Mrs. Terry Saban at science camp in seventh grade, although Miss Terry remembers first seeing Saban as a fifth-grader at a Pop Warner game in West Virginia, where she was a cheerleader and he was the opposing quarterback. Devout Catholics, the two married at 21 years old and have two adopted children, son Nicholas and daughter Kristen, both of whom are now married. In 2015, Kristen’s wedding was attended by Crimson Tide mascots Big Al and Mrs. Big Al. Nick and Terry are also very involved in their charity, Nick's Kids Funds.
4. Was teammates with Jack Lambert at Kent State
Saban played defensive back at Kent State, where he was a teammate of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers middle linebacker, four-time Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, as well as former Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Saban was a freshman during the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, when 28 Ohio National Guardsmen killed four unarmed students and wounded nine others who had been protesting the United States' bombing of Cambodia. Saban played for Hall of Fame coach Don James, who also gave Saban his first coaching jobs, as a graduate assistant (1973-74) and linebackers coach (1975-76) at Kent State. Saban credits James as his most important influence in coaching.
5. Was NFL defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick
After one season as head coach at Toldeo, Saban resigned and joined the NFL ranks. From 1991-94, Saban served as the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator under head coach Bill Belichick. Prior to the Browns' move to Baltimore, where they would rebrand as the Ravens, the entire coaching staff was fired and Saban was subsequently hired as Michigan State's head coach. Saban would have one other stint in the NFL, going 15–17 as the Miami Dolphins' head coach from 2005-06. Miami's medical staff refused to clear free-agent quarterback Drew Brees, resulting in the Dolphins signing Daunte Culpepper instead. Had Saban and Brees teamed up in the NFL, who knows how football history would've played out?
6. Rewrote his scene in the 2009 movie, The Blind Side
Saban joined fellow coaches Lou Holtz, Phil Fulmer, Ed Orgeron, Tommy Tuberville, and Houston Nutt in the 2009 Sandra Bullock film, The Blind Side. Since Saban played himself in the movie, he refused to perform the lines in the script, opting to remain true to his actual interactions with Michael Oher, the centerpiece of the story. "I said, 'Why can't I just do what I did?'" Saban said. "So I did it that way and (director John Lee Hancock) liked it, so I never did the script."
7. Loves being on the lake in his boat with family and friends
One of Saban's favorite pastimes is taking his boat out on the lake with friends, family, and even his players. A couple of years ago, Saban took Alabama's team leadership group out on the lake and got stranded when his boat broke down. "It was the fuel pump. It was a brand-new boat, my first time in it," Saban said at 2018 SEC Media Days. "Everybody that I talked to — friends in Michigan, people in California, everybody in the world — thinks I ran out of gas. So I thank you all for that. The best one I got was, I got a text from some players at the Naval Academy who had the largest battleship in the Navy. It said, 'Coach, we got your back. We'll come pick you up anytime you need us.'"
8. Takes golf very seriously and is a seriously good golfer
Like most coaches, Saban gets invited to play a fair amount of golf with boosters, alums, fans, and various charity events. A reported 10 handicap, Saban has played in the PGA Tour's famed Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, as well as with a handful of major champions, including Justin Thomas and Bernhard Langer. Saban has also recently joined the ownership group of Waterfall Club, near his home on Lake Burton in the mountains of northeast Georgia.
9. Eats two oatmeal cream pies for breakfast every day
Saban is a busy man. In addition to coaching football, he owns several Mercedes-Benz car dealerships, including two in the Birmingham area and one in Nashville. With most of his hours accounted for, Saban likes a quick and easy breakfast of two oatmeal cream pies and a cup of coffee. This has become a running joke that even Coach Saban will poke fun of in national ad campaigns like the one he did with ESPN's College GameDay crew.
10. Has produced a better career than Bear Bryant
Hot take alert! Saban passed Bear Bryant as the all-time leader in national championships as a coach when the Crimson Tide crushed Ohio State — Saban has won six at Alabama (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020) and one at LSU (2003), while Bryant won all six at Bama. But Saban already had a better coaching career before this latest College Football Playoff. Two of Bear's national titles came in seasons that ended with a bowl game loss — losing to Texas in the Orange Bowl to cap a one-loss 1964 season and losing to an undefeated Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to end a one-loss 1973 season. Those two Bryant-coached teams would never have been crowned champs under any variation of the rules by which Saban has coached.