When you think of college football, what image pops into your head? For most of us, it may be the first time we witnessed a game or the first tailgating experience. For me I go back to the 2001 LSU football season when the No. 21 ranked Tigers upset the No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Championship game. That team was lead by a man who is known as “The King” of College Football, Nick Saban. Saban had an amazing staff at his time at LSU and changed the culture in Louisiana forever, and ultimately all of college football. However, as we all know, Saban would eventually return to college football after briefly being in the NFL and has won 4 National Titles (along with 5 SEC Titles) and now looking towards his 5th in 10 seasons. Saban has done what no other coach has done, and that is get his team into all four college football playoffs. But is the era in Tuscaloosa slowly fading away, or can ole St. Nick keep this show going on forever?
It is no secret that many big-name coaches have been mentored under Saban, and most have had success. Even Saban was mentored by one of the best NFL coaches of all time, Bill Belichick. But is the stamp Saban has left in football already starting to affect him? For example, former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has his UGA Bulldog team in the college football playoff in only his second season, and Auburn Defensive Coordinator, Kevin Steele, beat Saban and the Tide this season. Here is a better look at the coaching tree of “Saban Disciples” and where they currently are (there are more, these or bigger names):
Former Assistant Coaches:
-Major Applewhite: Head Coach Houston Cougars
-Lane Kiffin: Head Coach Florida Atlantic (Offensive Genius And Twitter Troller)
-Jeremy Pruitt: Tennessee Volunteer Head Coach (Former Defensive Coordinator 2017)
-Kirby Smart: UGA Head Coach (Also On LSU Staff, In College Football Playoff)
-Kevin Steele: Auburn Defensive Coordinator (Beat Saban This Season)
-Will Muschamp: South Carolina Head Coach (42-32 Overall As Head Coach, South Carolina Is In Bowl Game)
-Adam Gase: Head Coach Miami Dolphins (LSU Grad Assistant, Rising Coach)
-Mark Dantonio: Michigan State Head Coach (117-62 overall 3 Big 10 Titles)
-Derek Dooley: Cowboys Wide Reciever Coach (LSU Staff Running Backs, Former La Tech And Tennessee Head Coach)
-Jimbo Fisher: Texas A&M Head Coach (Won National Title At Florida State)
-Jason Garrett: Cowboys Head Coach (65-52 As Head Coach)
-Jim McElwain: Unemployed Because He Is… (Won Two SEC East Titles At Florida)
-Mike Mularkey: Titans Head Coach (Currently Leading Division)
-Dan Quinn: Falcons Head Coach (Won NFC Title, Former Seahawks Defensive Coordinator)
-Steve Sarkisian: Offensive Coordinator Falcons (9th Overall Offense In NFL)
-Pat Shurmur: Minnesota Offensive Coordinator (7th Overall Offense In NFL)
-Josh McDaniels: Offensive Coordinators New England Patriots
-Todd Grantham: Defensive Coordinator Florida (Was On Indianapolis Colts Staff And Lead League In Sacks)
As you can see there is a lot of great coaches who have been with Saban over the years, however, life will only get tougher now in the SEC, especially the SEC West. The SEC had a large turnover of coaching this season, but the SEC loaded up on great new coaches! Here the just the new coaches in the SEC WEST:
-Arkansas- Hired Chad Morris, former Clemson Offensive Coordinator and lead recruiter for Deshaun Watson to Clemson
-Auburn- Gus Mulzahn signed an extention with the Tigers and is the only reigning SEC coach to have beat Saban twice while at Alabama. Also he keeps Kevin Steele who is former Saban Assistant.
-Mississippi- Stayed with in home boy, Matt Luke, who has been tearing up the recruiting trail even with NCAA sanctions.
-Mississippi State- Hired Joe Moorhead from Penn State after Dan Mullen left for Florida. Moorhead led an explosive Penn State Offense to a Big 10 Title and was 38-13 at Fordham.
-Texas A&M- Maybe the biggest hire this off-season was Jimbo Fisher. Fisher has proven to be a great coachwith winning a National Title at Florida State. He was on Saban’s staff at LSU.
No, I did not forget about LSU and Coach Ed Orgeron! Orgeron may be the biggest worry for Saban in the immediate future outside of Auburn. Orgeron has been known through his entire career to be an elite recruiter. Orgeron has gone into Saban’s own back yard and has the chance to pull away two top prospects out of Alabama. Coach O has also started to rebuild his offensive/defensive lines which have been a problem in the past for the Tigers when facing Alabama. With the departure of offensive line coach Jeff Grimes to BYU, LSU has just hired one of the most sought after offensive line coaches in America, James Cregg. After LSU lost this past season to Alabama 24-10, it was clear the Tigers had vastly improved under Orgeron even with a loss to Troy. After the game Orgeron stated, “we’re comin’, we’re comin’, and we ain’t backing down” (as he starred into the camera with an intense look)! However the question is with young superstar coordinators like Matt Canada and Dave Aranda, is it fair to say Orgeron may be building his own coaching tree and legacy at LSU and can replace Nick Saban where it all really started for “The King”?