By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – If you follow members of the Southeastern Conference media relations and digital media staff on Twitter, you likely know that our home base here in Birmingham underwent some renovations this past summer. In the moving process, we ran across a lot of interesting articles and history that had to be moved from our in-house library.
One of those newspapers that I encountered was a 2007 SEC Football Preview from the Chattanooga Times Free-Press that featured a large picture of Nick Saban and asked the question “Is Bama Back?”
What may seem laughable now was a fair question back then.
The Crimson Tide were on their fourth coach in a 10-year period and hadn’t experienced a 10-win season since 2002. Alabama’s last appearance in the SEC Championship Game at that time was 1999. The most recent national championship for the Crimson Tide came in 1992.
Alabama compiled a record of 36-27 in the five years prior to that article being published.
Saban had been hired away from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins following a highly successful coaching career at LSU that resulted in the Tigers winning the 2003 BCS Championship. Saban spent five seasons in Baton Rouge, leading LSU to eight or more wins in each of those years, including two 10-plus win seasons.
Saban landed in Tuscaloosa facing lofty expectations, ones that he not only understood, but embraced.
“I want you to know that it will be our goal to give you the kind of football program, the kind of football team that you can be proud of, that will complement the tradition that this institution has been so proud of through the years,” Saban said in his introductory press conference. “That’s going to be our goal with the football program.”
What Saban has accomplished during his tenure at Alabama, especially over the past five years, has been nothing short of amazing.
During that span, the Crimson Tide have racked up at least 10 wins each season, with 12 or more victories three times in that stretch. Alabama has won two BCS National Championships and is one win away from playing for another.
There’s no doubt that this Saturday’s SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia in Atlanta is as big of a conference title tilt as there has been in years. It features the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, respectively, in the latest BCS Standings and the winner will almost undoubtedly vie for the national title.
What has been remarkable is how quickly Saban has revitalized the Alabama football program. Since arriving in Tuscaloosa, he has compiled a 61-13 record, directing the Crimson Tide to three SEC Western Division Championships, one SEC Championship and two BCS Championships.
Consider these impressive facts:
• Saban is the only coach to win three BCS National Championships and is the first to win BCS titles at two different schools.
• Saban is one of just two active FBS coaches to coach for at least 10 years and not have a losing season.
• His 2011 BCS Champion team’s defense led the nation in all major statistical categories, becoming the first team in the nation to accomplish that feat since 1986.
• His 2011 senior class won a school-record 48 games over the span of four seasons.
Saban’s much admired organizational system and fierce work-ethic have produced incredible results during his time at Alabama. The only question that remains is: what will he do next?
We will find out starting Saturday. See you in Atlanta.