Numbers To Know: Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty reaches title No. 5
College football’s Goliath keeps marching on.
The Alabama Crimson Tide captured the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship with a 26-23 overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. The win extends college football’s preeminent dynasty of the modern era and keeps Nick Saban at the top of the sport’s mountain for yet another season.
“When we lost last year on the last play of the game, we said don't waste a failing,” Saban said after his sixth career national title, tied for the most in AP Poll history. “That's the lesson we all wanted to learn. I think the resiliency this team has shown all year long certainly proves that they sort of learned something from that. Couldn't be prouder of a bunch of coaches and a bunch of players and the people in our organization who contribute to the success of the University of Alabama.”
Here are four numbers to know concerning Saban’s dynasty in Tuscaloosa:
USA TODAY Sports
5: National championships for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa
Nick Saban's reputation was well-established after building a title-winning monster at LSU, but he's cemented a place among coaching greats during his time at Alabama, winning five national titles in 11 seasons.
Saban now claims more titles than all other active head coaches combined after tying Bear Bryant, the coaching icon he's chased ever since arriving in Tuscaloosa.
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
12: Points deciding past 3 national title games
When the opportunity presented itself in the BCS era, Nick Saban pounced on opponents. Alabama was a perfect 3-0 in BCS title game appearances, winning by an average margin of 21.7 points per game.
The College Football Playoff, which allows for just one week of preparation time in between the semifinals and finals, presents a different challenge. Saban's teams have competed in the season's ultimate game in each of the past three seasons — with those games being decided by a combined total of 12 points.
In other words, to catch the Bear, Saban has needed to win some nail-biters. And, as Tua Tagovailoa's game-winning heave can attest, he has.
0: Wins against Nick Saban by former assistants
Top coaches are often evaluated on their coaching tree — and Saban disciples litter the top of college football, from Jimbo Fisher to Mark Dantonio to Will Muschamp.
Another branch stood on the opposite sideline on Monday night. Much was made of the Nick Saban-Kirby Smart relationship throughout championship week (for good reason) and the title game was yet another example of teacher besting pupil. In fact, that's how it always plays out in Saban's world.
Nick Saban is now a perfect 12-0 against his former assistants after taking down Smart's Bulldogs.
Matthew EmmonsMatthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
1: Freshman quarterback taking pivotal snaps in title game
Nick Saban had won titles with Matt Mauck and Greg McElroy (juniors), A.J. McCarron (sophomore, junior) and Jake Coker (senior) being the primary option behind center in a national game, but Tua Tagovailoa provided something different.
The former five-star recruit, who replaced struggling starter Jalen Hurts in the second half against Georgia, is the first true freshman quarterback to propel Saban to a title, and his blend of speed and throwing ability makes him a dangerous long-term threat in Tuscaloosa.
"No disrespect to Jalen, but the real thought was, you know, they came into the game thinking we were going to run the ball and be able to run quarterback runs, which we made a couple of explosive plays on," Saban said. "But with the absence of a passing game and being able to make explosive plays and being able to convert on third down, I just didn't feel we could run the ball well enough, and I thought Tua would give us a better chance and a spark, which he certainly did.
"I couldn't be prouder of him taking advantage of the opportunity. We have total confidence in him."