The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 8, 2013

Saban restless in a way rest of us are not

NORMAN — At some point, this much success should have brought joy, or at the very least, a deep sense of satisfaction. It’s only made Nick Saban chase each win more relentlessly than the last.

If nothing else, it will be interesting to see him try to top this one.

Alabama’s Crimson Tide slipped on the BCS crown for the third time in the last four years Monday night, crushing Notre Dame 42-14 and almost as impressively, forcing a wide grin from its sometimes dour and always serious coach. Small wonder. The win was Saban’s fourth national championship, which left him tied with Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy for second on The Associated Press’ all-time list, and behind only Paul “Bear” Bryant, the most famed of his predecessors at Alabama.

“I’m satisfied with this team because of what they accomplished,” Saban said afterward.

But he has a rule that celebrations are cut short after 48 hours — and despite the biggest of wins — a rule is a rule.

“Two days from now,” Saban said without a hint of humor, “we got to start on next year.”

The weekend before the championship, more than a few people wondered whether Saban might finally open up, the way Urban Meyer did while still coaching at Florida a while back, the way some of his peers have when their legacy, like Saban’s, was secured. Saban did — just not the way most expected.

He began with a story about inheriting his uncompromising work ethic from a father that he and everyone else in their tucked-away corner of West Virginia always called “Big Nick.”

“There was a bum that used to come to my dad’s service station early in the morning because he’d give him free coffee and doughnuts,” Saban said. “We had had a tough game the night before, I don’t remember whether it was basketball game, a football game or whatever. The guy was giving me a hard time and I sort of sassed him. I was 17 years old. I got the strap right on the spot.

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