Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Nick Saban coaching tree extends a branch into Ole Miss

Nick Saban's dynasty isn't over. It's just beginning. He is the Genghis Khan of college football.

There are 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference. With Saturday's hiring of Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss, there are now five current head coaches in the SEC who have served as assistant coaches under Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

They are:

  1. Kirby Smart - Georgia
  2. Jimbo Fisher - Texas A&M
  3. Will Muschamp - South Carolina
  4. Jeremy Pruitt -Tennessee
  5. Lane Kiffin - Ole Miss 
The Florida Gators have twice put their hopes and dreams with Saban disciples, hiring Muschamp in 2011 and following with former Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain in 2014. The impatient Gators traded Mac for former Urban Meyer disciple Dan Mullen in 2018.

What's obvious here is that a successful stint under the coach who's almost certainly the best in his era (if not best ever) has led to very lucrative head coaching jobs at six different programs in the best conference in big boy college football. 

But wait: There's more.

Saban himself has coached at two SEC programs. He won his first national title in 2003 at LSU. So that makes eight SEC programs that have either been coached by Nick Saban or coached by at least one of his former assistants.

Only Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt have yet to feel Saban's touch. Missouri may get a Saban branch of their own if rumors of McElwain's imminent hire there play out.

How has coaching under Saban worked out for the programs that have hired his former assistants? The clear answer is "not too shabby." We excuse the patience-less Florida Gators, of course. (They're special and they'll tell you so if you ask.)

Jimbo Fisher has three conference titles and a National Championship and has a record of 99–32.

Kirby Smart has three SEC East championships, one SEC title and an appearance against his mentor in the championship game for the 2017 season. He's 43–11 in his first and only head coaching gig.

Will Muschamp has a winning record as a head coach, going 54–46 overall between Florida and South Carolina.

Jim McElwain has a 52–31 record with head coaching stops at Fresno State, Colorado State, Florida and Central Michigan.

Lane Kiffin has been the head coach at Tennessee, Southern Cal and Florida Atlantic. Along the way, he's cobbled together an impressive 61–34 record with two Conference USA titles. 

Jeremy Pruitt is the only Saban Padawan with a record at/below .500 with a 12–12 record at Knoxville.

That's a combined record of 321–166 with a national championship and six conference titles. In a 12-game season, that's an average 8–4 record, with a realistic shot at division, conference honors and an occasional chance at national championship contention. Not too shabby.

The only bad news for SEC programs with Sabanites at their helms is that they are a collective 0-19 against their mentor. Sooner or later, one of the students will best his master, but so far... they're not that good.

So, why the Genghis Khan wisecrack? An early 2000's genetic study shows that at least 1-in-200 men living today are direct paternal (Y-chromosome) descendants of the Mongol conqueror.

I'll leave you with this quote, attributed to Genghis hisself:

"The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms."

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