Nick Saban is far and away the most successful college football coach of the modern era thanks in no small part to what he’s managed to achieve since taking the helm at the University of Alabama in 2007, as the man who won a national championship at LSU in 2003 has added six more titles to his impressive résumé during his time with the Crimson Tide.
The majority of the 280 wins Saban has racked up at the college level have come during his tenure in Tuscaloosa. However, he spent plenty of time working his way up the ranks en route to becoming one of the most celebrated coaches of all time.
Saban’s career kicked off more than 30 years ago when he landed a gig at the University of Toledo in 1989. He wasted no time making his mark, as he posted a 9-2 record during his first (and only) season with the Rockets before taking his talents to Cleveland to serve as the defensive coordinator for the Browns under Bill Belichick.
It turns out Toledo could’ve had two legendary coaches on staff after hiring Saban based on Urban Meyer’s unsuccessful effort to land a job at the school—a story the former Ohio State skipper shed some light on during a recent appearance on the All Things Covered podcast.
During the conversation, Meyer recalled making a very good impression on Saban’s wife Terry after calling their home in search of a new gig but ultimately went in a different direction after the coach failed to get back to him:
“Coach Saban [had] just gotten hired at Toledo, and I’m from Toledo…
This was obviously before cellphones and iPads and all that, so I called his home, and Terry Saban answered the phone and I put on a 30-minute recruiting speech.
I remember her saying ‘Yeah, I can’t wait for him to talk to you,’ Whenever I see Terry Saban, we still laugh about that because I had her. It was over; I was coming to Toledo.
At the time, I was at Illinois State making about $10,000 a year and I thought I might as well take a run at it. About three weeks later, I got hired at Colorado State and it all worked out.”
Meyer’s disastrous NFL stint may have left plenty to be desired, but as he alluded to, his 187-32 college record speaks for itself.