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Nick Saban Is Still The Most Powerful Coach In Sports. He's Also One Of The Best. - Forbes
On Saturday night, the Alabama Crimson Tide put a good old-fashioned whoopin' on the Michigan Wolverines, 41-14. The game, televised by ABC, was pretty much over in the first quarter, when Alabama rolled to a 21-0 lead. The preseason rankings had the Tide pegged as the second-best college football team in the land, and the Wolverines as the eighth-best. Michigan was either overrated, or Alabama's head coach, Nick Saban, has another juggernaut on his hands. Both of those statements are probably true.
Four years ago, I wrote about Saban for Forbes, calling him "the most powerful coach in sports." At the time, Bama's football program was in disarray. Saban was supposed to be the savior. The school basically handed him the keys to the program and hoped he would transform it, giving him unprecedented power in doing so. The Alabama administration knew they'd hired a great recruiter. Two national championships later, it's clear that they also happened to hire a great football coach.
If anything, those national championships have only solidified Saban's power. In March, he became the highest-paid college football coach in the country, with a salary of $5.3 million that will jump to close to $6 million by 2019. There is already a statue of him on the campus. The Alabama football team rakes in $77 million in revenue a year. Much of that money pays for non-scholarship sports; $6.5 million goes to academic programs. The team has a $30 million deal with Nike, one of the largest in sports.
The best football coaches transform their teams into reflections of themselves. During Bama's win over Michigan, it was apparent that Saban had done just that with the Crimson Tide. Alabama gets the little things right. They are not flashy. They are disciplined. They rely on an almost NFL-caliber offensive line, good running backs, a mistake-free quarterback, and a hard-nosed defense. Like their coach, they never take their feet off the pedals. Saban expects much out of his players, regardless of the score of the game. Witness his sideline dress-downs of second and third-string players for blown assignments well after the outcome of the game had long been decided.