Remembering All 7 of Nick Saban’s National Championship Teams

Nick Saban, one of the most celebrated figures in College Football history, recently hung up his coaching cleats, bringing to a close a storied career that spanned multiple decades with most notably Alabama, LSU, and other destinations including the NFL.

His legacy with Alabama is Coach Saban’s life’s work. Saban’s tenure at Alabama, lasting an impressive 17 years, was marked by an astounding 87% winning percentage and racking up his collection of seven total titles.

2003: The Beginning of Greatness at LSU

Saban’s first taste of championship glory came during his tenure at LSU in the 2003 season. This championship is viewed by many as Saban’s most impressive feat considering the state of the program when he took over. In the 1990s, LSU had endured seven losing seasons. Saban, however, turned the tide (see what I did there?), leading the team to a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS title game. This inspiring LSU squad was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, with notable players such as Joseph Addai, Marcus Spears, Corey Webster, Laron Landry, and others.

Their championship success would eventually catapult Saban to the NFL, where he had a brief and unremarkable stint with the Miami Dolphins before making a triumphant return to college football with Alabama in 2007. 

2009: Saban’s Alabama Reign Begins

Saban’s first championship at Alabama came in the 2009 season. Heisman winner Mark Ingram led the charge with a 116-yard, two-touchdown performance that culminated in a 37-21 victory over an undefeated Texas team in the Rose Bowl. The Crimson Tide’s dominance in the second quarter, during which they outscored the Longhorns 24-0, was particularly noteworthy. With a flawless 14-0 season, Alabama not only secured Saban’s first championship at the university but also marked the first-ever Heisman win for an Alabama player, as well as for Saban himself.

2011: A Defensive Masterclass

Saban’s second championship in Tuscaloosa came in the 2011 season, with Alabama putting on a defensive masterclass against his former team, LSU, in the BCS title game. Although the game was not a showcase of offensive prowess, Alabama, led by running back Trent Richardson, put the team ahead with five consecutive field goals from Jeremy Shelley. Richardson, a Heisman trophy finalist that season, sealed the deal with a 34-yard score in the final minutes of the game.

2012: Back-To-Back Titles

The 2012 season saw Saban and Alabama secure back-to-back titles, defeating Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS title game. The victory marked Saban’s third title in four years at Alabama and secured AJ McCarron’s legendary status at Alabama leading the Tide to back-to-back titles as their QB. The highlight of the team’s play was both Eddie Lacy and Amari Cooper scored twice apiece for the Tide. The game is often remembered more for the off-field drama surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

2015: Alabama’s First CFP Title

Legendary, to put it simply. In one of the most thrilling title games of the College Football Playoff era, Saban led Alabama to a 45-40 win over Clemson in the second CFP championship. It also really started to brew the rivalry between Alabama vs. Clemson, as both programs were in an arms race competing for college football dominance. The game was a rollercoaster, with Alabama trailing 24-21 at the start of the fourth quarter before rallying to score 10 unanswered points. This victory cemented Saban’s status as one of the greatest coaches in the modern era, but it was only the first part of the chapter between these two storied programs. 

2017: The Tua Game

The 2017 season witnessed one of the most dramatic comebacks in college football history. Down 13-0 to Georgia at halftime, Alabama made a key strategic change, introducing freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. This bold decision paid off, with Alabama forcing overtime and ultimately winning 26-23 when Tagovailoa connected with Devonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown reception in overtime.

2020: Saban’s Final Title

Saban’s last championship came against Ohio State in the 2020 season with a team that was loaded with talent, including The Heisman Trophy Winner, DeVonta Smith. The team’s performance further cemented Nick Saban’s legacy as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, as this championship was his seventh national title, surpassing the record of six held by legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. 

Alabama used a huge second quarter to take a commanding halftime lead, eventually cruising to a 52-24 victory. This win put Saban in the elite company of coaches with six national championships at one school.  This team in particular will be remembered for its exceptional talent, strategic brilliance, and the unique circumstances due to it being the COVID-19 season. 

Honoring The Legacy

Throughout his career, Saban has not only crafted championship teams but also nurtured several players who would go on to have successful NFL careers. Among the standout players are Heisman winners Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smith, and Bryce Young. Other notable players include Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Derrick Henry, and O.J. Howard. Moreover, Saban’s legacy extends beyond the field, with many of his protégés going on to become coaches at both the college and NFL levels. His influence on the game is undeniable and will continue to be felt for years to come.

To reflect, while Nick Saban’s retirement marks the end of an era in SEC Football, his legacy at both Alabama and LSU will forever be embedded in the stories of college football history. His unwavering dedication, tactical acumen, and ability to inspire and mold young players into champions have left an indelible mark on the sport, setting a benchmark for future generations to aspire to. As we bid farewell to this coaching titan, we celebrate his remarkable career and the indelible impact he has had on college football. Thank you, Nick Saban, for the memories, the inspiration, and for being a true advocate for the game of football. 


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