Nick Saban won his sixth national title Monday – and his fifth at Alabama – but this one may have meant a little bit more given what the 66-year-old has endured over the last year. In fact, SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic believes this was the greatest coaching job of Saban’s career.
“It’s not just that game; it’s the entire season,” Cubelic said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “(He lost) Lane Kiffin, (who) was an extraordinary offensive coordinator and did an amazing job calling plays. He’s off to FAU. They lose Ryan Anderson, Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson. You lose the best speed rusher that he’s ever had. To replace all those guys on that defense, Jeremy Pruitt announces he’s going to be the next head coach at Tennessee. You have four or five linebackers injured during the course of the season. You have a backup right guard making his second start of the season at a different position in this playoff game, so you’re without a starting offensive lineman. You’re without your starting edge setter in Anfernee Jennings, who played a great game against Clemson the week before, and then on top of that, you make a quarterback change to a true freshman at halftime of the national-title game. You have to insert a true-freshman left tackle in the national-title game, and you’re able to find a way to beat – in my opinion, from start to finish – the best football team that there was in college football.”
From winning at Notre Dame to beating Auburn in the SEC Championship, Georgia had a great season, no doubt. Throw in a Rose Bowl thriller against Oklahoma, and Cubelic might be on to something.
“I just think start to finish they were the most consistent. They were the best college football team in the country,” Cubelic said. “And Alabama was able to go beat them and find a way to win, even being down double digits – something that they’re just not used to being. So for me, start to finish, everything involved, what he had to deal with, coaching players, the whole deal – it was by far the most impressive coaching performance of his career, in my opinion.”