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Nick Saban in class all by himself

Hear from Nick Saban after Alabama's 42-14 win over Notre Dame.
Hear from Nick Saban after Alabama's 42-14 win over Notre Dame.
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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.

You’d just like for someone to throw it back in his face once. Just one time so he can get his, to show that he can’t just do anything he wants. He is one of those guys who seems to be laughing at you and at everyone else.

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TIDE RULES THE DAY

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The problem with that is that Nick Saban actually can, in fact, do anything he wants. No one can touch him.

Saban is now dominating college football like no other coach in any other major sport. He has led Alabama on the most impressive run in college football history. And while the SEC has become the most powerful conference in history, he seems to slide through it with ease.

Alabama won its second straight national title on Monday, its third in four years, pancaking former No. 1 Notre Dame 42-14. With all actual competition over and Notre Dame’s players flat on their backs, the night was so boring after the first quarter that the star of the game was actually Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, Miss Alabama Katherine Webb.

ESPN kept focus on her while Brent Musburger, 50 years her senior, slobbered over her in a creepy kind of way. With that kind of exposure, her Twitter following went from just over 2,000 followers to over 100,000 in one night.

“I’m not the jealous type,’’ McCarron said afterward.

Webb and Musburger, seven years after he discovered Jenn Sterger, will be the talk of the next day or two.

But Saban will be the talk through history.

I’m pretty sure.

Counting his time at LSU, Saban now has four titles in eight years at two schools.

“It’s not about me,’’ he said, expressionless. “It’s really about seeing all those people being really happy. Whether I look it or not, I’m happy as hell.’’

He then efforted a smile, taking at least three whole seconds to work the corners of his mouth up and hold it in a sneer for proof.

For Notre Dame, you can say that one night doesn’t erase a season. But the Irish look different today than they did yesterday. So does Manti Te’o. The Irish went into the game ranked No. 1, which now seems laughable.

I still think Te’o deserved the Heisman Trophy over Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, but Te’o was run over on Monday. With the defensive linemen down for the count, Te’o was just the next layer of roadkill.

The game was always going to match up Alabama’s offensive line and Notre Dame’s defensive front seven. And that was a knockout so fast, after such a long buildup, that it made Mike Tyson’s famous KO of Michael Spinks look like it went the distance.

“They’re back-to-back national champs,’’ Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “So that’s what it looks like. Measure yourself against that.’’

No one can measure up to Alabama, or to the SEC. The only hope for anyone else is that all the conference shakeups of college football end up with the SEC merging with the NFC South.

The same thing that happened to Notre Dame would have happened to Oregon or Stanford or Kansas State.

The SEC has now produced the past seven national champions, which has become a bigger problem for college football than the BCS ever presented. The whole regular season is looking less and less relevant, as the rest of the nation has become the minor leagues.

And unlike pro sports, where the worst teams draft the best players to even things out, the SEC is just the place where all the best players want to go. Football is a religion in the South, a way of life, so the best players are produced there.

They are able to stay at home, and would be crazy to leave the place where college football is biggest and best. So the sport grows at a faster pace in the South, and the SEC schools have the money and facilities, and coaches, and it just all feeds on itself.

That said, Saban has been able to dominate the nation's dominant conference.

After last year, four players went in the first round of the NFL Draft, including three from his defense. At most places, that would deplete a team.

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“People talk about how the most difficult thing is to win your first championship,’’ Saban said. “Really, the most difficult is to win the next one, because there’s always a feeling of entitlement. . .

“It takes special people who have special character and a special will because you’re always fighting yourself when you try to repeat something. The first time, you’re all charged up, but the second time, you have to challenge your will.’’

The question now is what’s next for Saban.

Just a hunch, but I say he’ll leave for the NFL, and that Monday night’s game will be his last at Alabama. He has had failure just one time in his career, with the Miami Dolphins, and there is no way his ego can accept that.

But if I’m wrong, and he does choose to stay, he will keep adding to his records at Alabama. He will go on to be known as the greatest college coach in history.

Musburger will surely find something to hold his interest.

Tagged: Alabama, Notre Dame, AJ McCarron

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