Daily Blog • January 14, 2013

Phil Steele's 2012 Coach of the Year:
Nick Saban, Alabama

I vote on several player awards and serve on many award committees each year including the Heisman, the Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski, Bednarik, Hendricks, Groza, Lott Impact, Jim Thorpe, O’Brien, Doak Walker and Biletnikoff Awards to name a few. I also vote on several coaches’ awards including the FWAA Eddie Robinson and Paul Bear Bryant coach of the year awards. However, most of these awards are voted and presented prior to the bowls and many times players’ and coaches’ bowl performances are neglected from this process or I feel that some players and/or coaches who did not receive an award deserve some extra recognition.
For this reason, last season I publicly released my Coach of the Year Award and the inaugural winner was Bill Snyder of Kansas State who led the Wildcats to a 10-win season.  This year I am proud to announce Alabama’s Nick Saban as my Collegiate Coach of the Year with Bill O’Brien of Penn State as my runner-up.

Keep in mind coming into this season, many thought that this year’s Tide edition would be Nick Saban’s least talented in the past few years as they lost several players to the draft. In fact, in my College Football Preview, Alabama came up on top for my Draft Day Party Hangover (page 310) with 38 points. Keep in mind in the last 15 years, teams that had accumulated 35 points or higher in the draft had a weaker record 14 of the 16 times (87.5%!) the next season. Saban and Co would become just the third team to top their record after losing so many players to the draft the prior year. 

Also after leading the Crimson Tide to their 15th national title in school history this past season, Saban cemented his status as not only one of the best head coaches in the game today, but arguably one of the best in college football history. Under his watch, Alabama became just the third school all-time to win three national championships in a four-year period and Saban has now claimed four national championships in his last eight years as a college coach!

Saban along with Frank Leahy, Bear Bryant and John McKay are the only coaches in modern college football history to win four national titles in their careers and Saban is the only coach in history to win national titles at two different schools. Saban has compiled a career record of 154-55-1 (.735) as a college coach and has gone 61-7 (.897) the past five seasons at Alabama.

It is remarkable to me that Saban has been shut out on many of the coach of the year awards since the 2008 season saw him guide the Tide to a perfect 12-0 regular season before dropping their final two games. Just because it has become the norm to expect a great Alabama team to show up each year does not mean that Saban and Co did not put forth a great coaching performance in getting that team to achieve that certain level of success. For this reason, I am very proud to announce Nick Saban as my 2012 Coach of the Year but it is also clear to me that he is one of the best coaches of all-time!