Archives for posts with tag: Nick Saban

As the calendar closes in on Halloween and the final month of the season in November, the SEC’s named rivalries began to kickoff. The Third Saturday in October, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and The Iron Bowl are all part of SEC lore. For these rivalries, we’ll take a look back at the games five, 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

Today — the third Saturday in October — marks the annual Alabama-Tennessee battle. Since the 1992 divisional split, this rivalry has only been played on the actual third Saturday in October six times.

2007: Alabama 41, #20 Tennessee 17 (Tuscaloosa)

In Nick Saban’s first game against Tennessee as Alabama’s head coach, he opened with a recovered onside kick that led to 3-0 lead for the Crimson Tide. They wouldn’t look back and never trailed #20 Tennessee, eventually hammering the Vols in the 2nd half for a 41-17 win. In Philip Fulmer’s final season at Tennessee in 2008, a number of Vols fans sold their home tickets to Tide fans signifying their displeasure with the Vols’ direction. Tennessee hasn’t beaten Saban and Alabama since.

2007 Statistics:

Leading Passer (yards) — Ala. QB John Parker Wilson (32/46 for 363 yds., 3 TDs, 0 INTs)

Leading Rusher — Ala. RB Terry Grant (26 carries for 104 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Receiver — Ala. WR D.J. Hall (13 catches for 185 yds., 2 TDs)


2002: #19 Alabama 34, #16 Tennessee 14 (Knoxville)

The 2002 version of the Alabama Crimson Tide lost only two games, and on its way to double-digit victories, it snapped Tennessee’s seven-game winning streak in the rivalry. The 1995-2001 stretch is the Volunteers longest streak in the series. Alabama holds an 11-game mark and is currently on a five-game streak.

The series’ famous “Victory Cigars” were surely lit up in Tuscaloosa after this one.

The video is blurry, but Ron Franklin is on the call (Courtesy of RedElephantStampede). He was SEC Saturday Night, and you wish he still was.



Alabama QB Jay Barker escapes the Tennessee rush.

1992: #4 Alabama 17, #13 Tennessee 10 (Knoxville)

Alabama would go on to win the 1992 National Championship after defeating Tennessee 17-10. The Tide jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, but gave the Vols an opportunity to tie the game in the 4th quarter with a fumble at the Tennessee 48-yard-line with 1:30 left. However, Tennessee QB Heath Shuler threw an interception to end the threat.


1982: Tennessee 35, #2 Alabama 28 (Knoxville)

Like the 2002 version of this rivalry, the 1982 game ended a team’s longest streak. Alabama had won 11 straight against the Vols, but Tennessee knocked them off to start a four-game streak of its own from 1982-1985. Vols WR and world-class sprinter Willie Gault, who would later star for the Chicago Bears, struck early in this one.

Long-time Tennessee radio voice John Ward on call (Courtesy of YankeeFanInTenn):



The Tide and Tigers met in the 1968 Gator Bowl.

Here’s a surprising stat. Missouri actually leads the all-time series with Alabama 2-1 — one of the few programs in America to do so. Dan Devine’s Tigers were victorious in the 1968 Gator Bowl 35-10 over Bear Bryant’s Tide and Missouri won the second meeting in 1975 in Alabama 20-7. The Tide returned the favor in 1978, winning in Missouri 38-20.

Alabama is a three touchdown favorite to even the series tomorrow afternoon in what should be termed the Don James Bowl as both Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel are former James players and assistants at Kent State. Could someone sneak a Golden Flashes trophy down to Columbia?

James won 22 consecutive games at Washington from 1990-1992.

Don James, known as the Dawgfather of Washington football, turns 80 in December. He led the Huskies for 18 seasons from 1975-1992, compiling a 153-57-2 record. The Huskies won six Pac-8 and Pac-10 conference championships under James and shared the 1991 national championship with Miami (Fla.), James’ alma mater. He won national coach of the year awards in 1977, 1984 and 1991.

James retired under protest of NCAA sanctions against Washington in August 1993. It had been revealed that multiple players had received improper benefits during the 1992 season. The Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times investigation eventually led to charges from the NCAA of lack of institutional control over Washington’s handling of recruiting funds for on-campus visits.

It should be noted that James and his coaching staff weren’t specifically cited as having broken any rules, but the sanctions leveled against the program were significant. In the end, Washington received a 2-year bowl ban and 1-year television ban.

James and Pinkel gather for the 40th anniversary of Kent State’s 1972 MAC Championship team last week. Pinkel, Nick Saban and NFL Hall of Famer Jack Lambert played on the team.

Before James landed in Seattle, he led Kent State from 1971-1974. There, he guided his football program to the 1972 Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and coached Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Jack Lambert as well as two future SEC head coaches in Alabama’s Nick Saban (defensive back) and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel (tight end). Kent State recently honored that 1972 team with a 40th anniversary celebration of its MAC championship.

Pinkel, who served as James’ offensive coordinator at Washington from 1984-1990, has come up multiple times during Washington’s most recent head coaching vacancies. Washington was interested in the then-Toledo head coach after the 1998 season, but hired then-Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel instead. Washington fired Neuheisel in 2002, but Pinkel had just accepted the Missouri job in 2001. Interest peaked again for Pinkel and Washington in 2008 before the Huskies hired USC assistant and current head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Would Nick Saban ever do this? Um… (Credit: Paul Abell, US Presswire)

N.C. State’s, on Friday night, and Michigan’s, last night, 4th quarters were greeted with the “S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!” chant that’s all too familiar to the rest of the country as Tennessee and Alabama dominated their out-of-conference foes, respectively — Alabama’s was more of an evisceration actually. With its 26-19 win over Auburn, Clemson seemed to not just win one for the ACC but for the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast as well.

Tennessee’s WR Cordarrelle Patterson served notice to the conference that the Vols’ WR corp doesn’t need Da’Rick Rogers — they’re just fine, thank you. And Patterson wasn’t the only one to burn N.C. State All-American CB David Amerson, last year’s NCAA interception leader, as it seemed all orange-clad receivers had at least one moment against him.

While Tennessee’s passing attack looks up to speed, the Vols are still searching for a complimentary runner behind QB Tyler Bray, and new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri’s unit was very hit-and-miss on Friday night as well. Transitioning to a 3-4 defense can prove for some tough growing pains in the first year. Tennessee’s JUCO transfer nose tackle, the 6-foot 6-inch, 362-pound Daniel McCullers, has been a hit with Vols fans this off-season, but it remains to be seen if he can hold the point for the first year 3-4 defense.

‘Bama beat ’em blue, black and every other color. (Credit: LM Otero, AP)

After Michigan forced a 3-and-out on Alabama’s first possession of the game, the Wolverines were so jacked up they almost floated through the hole in Jerry’s World’s roof. Too bad that’s where their game went after that series, but that had more to do with Alabama than Michigan. Nick Saban has a program — or a “system” or a “standard” — that’s a little hard to believe in the limited 85-man scholarship era. The old saying of “I’ll beat you with my team today, and I’ll beat you with your team tomorrow,” that’s credited to Bear Bryant can almost be applied to Saban today. Good luck beating the Crimson Tide when Nick has more than a week to prepare.

Why didn’t Auburn play QB Kiehl Frazier more last year? This was a question we pondered in 2011 and in Auburn’s 26-19 loss to Clemson last night, he showed why he should have been given more consideration. He was only 11-for-27 but his athleticism should have had him working more in 2011 and, in turn, working out his accuracy issues. But credit the other quarterback in the Georgia Dome Saturday night with Clemson’s comeback win. QB Tahj Boyd, in a gritty performance that saw his helmet come off multiple times, led the ACC Tigers to 10 consecutive points to close the game.

Frazier could have worked out the kinks last year. (Credit: Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images)

Auburn, like Tennessee, is adjusting to a new defensive coordinator with ex-Georgia assistant Brian Van Gorder. Named the Frank Broyles “Assistant of the Year” in 2003, he should have Auburn much better on defense this year with DEs Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford coming off the edge. Also like the Vols, the Tigers are experimenting with what they have in their offensive backfield. RB Onterio McCalebb has always been an edge runner, but RB Tre Mason showed out with 100+ yards last night. Auburn goes to Starkville next week to open conference play against Mississippi State.

College football needs more of these match-ups

Alabama, ranked 2nd, and 8th-ranked Michigan meet for only the fourth time in their storied histories Saturday and for the first time in the regular season. Jerry’s World seems like the perfect stage for two programs that have loomed so large over the college football landscape for more than a century.

Alabama claims 14 national championships, while Michigan claims 11. Michigan has the most wins in the country with 895, while Alabama has 814. Alabama has played in 59 bowl games — the most nationwide — winning 33 of them, also the highest total. Michigan answers with 41 bowl games of its own. And finally, the Wolverines have won 74 percent of their games, while the Tide checks in at 71 percent.

Nice classic look (Credit: The Art, The Art, The Art)

It’s hard to find a better historical match-up. But the Tide’s and Wolverines’ on-field history only includes the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (now Outback Bowl), the 1997 Outback Bowl and the 2000 Orange Bowl. Michigan owns a 2-1 record.

Nick Saban, who served as Michigan State’s head coach from 1995-1998, is 1-3 against his former cross-state rival.

The records, the classic helmets, Alabama’s houndstooth print and Michigan’s block M — it’s all there in Dallas on Saturday night.

Borges was Auburn’s OC from 2004-2007

The national pundits want to talk about Michigan’s QB Denard “Shoelace” Robinson and Nick Saban’s plug-n-play defense after several elite recruiting classes at Alabama. And that’s okay. Those are the “known” names in the nation’s conscience in this weekend’s Cowboys Classic featuring the Tide and Wolverines in Dallas.

Brady Hoke begins his second season as Michigan’s head coach against the defending national champions. And although many Buckeyes fans don’t want to admit it, he was a very good hire from San Diego State and a “Michigan man” to boot. Like Saban, Hoke’s background is on the defensive side of the football, and to address his offense, he hired former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges, and coaching vagabond, at San Diego State. The 56-year-old Borges followed Hoke to Michigan last year and installed an offense around Robinson’s unique skills.

Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville hired Borges away from Indiana in 2004 to lead an offense featuring QB Jason Campbell and RBs Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. The Tigers promptly went undefeated after Borges installed what he termed his “Gulf Coast” offense.

Each of Borges’ offenses at Auburn finished in the top 15 nationally

Borges stayed at Auburn through 2007 as the Tigers went 41-9 and never lost to Alabama. His offenses were the only SEC offenses to finish ranked in the top 15 nationally each season from 2004-2007.

“We played against him a lot through the years [with LSU and Alabama] when he was the offensive coordinator at Auburn and he did a really good job,” Saban said in an article. “He does a lot of shifts and motions and tries to give you new looks, maybe confuse your players, but not really anything to confuse his players because they end up running the same plays. They try to out-flank you and use formation shifts and motions to do that.”

The good news for the Crimson Tide is Michigan doesn’t have anyone close to Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown in its backfield outside of Robinson, and Alabama’s program has made a rather large change from its 2004-2007 days.

But while everyone else focuses on Robinson’s “escapability” and Saban’s defense, we’ll be eyeing the shifts and motions Borges has in store for his old rival.