Take Your Pick: Nick Saban or Bill Belichick?7 min read
Before we jump in to anything, take a look at this video.
There’s so much quality stuff going on here. First of all, Bob Kraft is hammered. After Brady hit Edelman for that big gain on the opening drive, Bob Kraft grabbed the handle of Tito’s and just started chugging. God only knows what’s going to come out of Bobby’s mouth when Goodell has to hand him the Lombardi next week and he’s half a handle of Vodka deep.
Secondly, the way Bill looked at that Lamar Hunt Trophy was unbelievable. It was literally like someone was handing him the plague. Bill Belichick wanted absolutely nothing to do with the AFC Championship Trophy. Look at this shot of him holding it in his interview with Jim Nantz.
It looks like someone holding their briefcase at Union Station on a Monday morning. I’d say there’s a 75% chance that trophy was immediately thrown in the trash can. Not a chance in the world that trophy made it to Bill’s desk. This is New England, it’s Lombardi Trophy or get out of my face. Bill Belichick does not need your little participation trophy for beating the Steelers by 30, Roger.
Anyway, I’m sitting there late Sunday night watching this all unfold, and I couldn’t help but think about how much Bill Belichick is Nick Saban, and how much Nick Saban is Bill Belichick. For those of you who have read some of my previous stuff, or know me on any personal level, you know how much of a man crush I have on Nick Saban. If Saban looks at me and tells me to jump off a bridge, I am jumping off that damn bridge.
So it got me thinking, who’s the better coach? Two of the best of our time, but who would you rather have? Who has the better body of work, Nick Saban or Bill Belichick? Do Your Job or The Process? Well, I wanted to dive in to this a little more, because it’s actually scary to see what these two have done, and how much their presence has impacted the game. Take your pick, Nick Saban or Bill Belichick?
On, we go.
It’s important to point something out really fast before we get going: Nick Saban actually coached on Bill Belichick’s staff. In fact, the last time the Cleveland Browns won a playoff game was in 1994, the year Bill Belichick was the head coach and Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator (Don’t even get me started on the irony of the two greatest coaches of our era teaming up together with the Cleveland Browns). The next year, Saban left for East Lansing to take the head job at MSU, and the Browns….well, you know about the Browns.
Now, let’s start with Belichick.
In New England, Bill Belichick has a regular season record of 215-73, with a playoff record of 26-9. He has won 4 Super Bowls and been in the AFC Championship 11 times. During the time that Bill Belichick has been in New England, these are the coaches that his divisional opponents have gone through.
- New York Jets: Al Groh, Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles.
- Buffalo Bills: Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey, Dick Jauron, Perry Fewell, Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, Anthony Lynn, Sean Mcdermott.
- Miami Dolphins: Dave Wannstedt, Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell, Adam Gase.
In the time that Bill Belichick has been the head coach of the New England Patriots, the AFC East has seen 24 different head coaches. Let that sink in for a second. Patriots 1, AFC East 24. It’s absolutely mind blowing. I genuinely feel bad for the fans of all of these organizations. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have made every Sunday the last two decades irrelevant for those people. Also, something interesting to point out, Nick Saban was 2-0 against Belichick when he coached in that division.
You want to measure greatness? Take a look at what happened in the years that Belichick didn’t win the Super Bowl. I’ll do the same with Saban in a minute, but take a step back and think about what has prevented Bill from winning more rings.
If this historic pitch and catch doesn’t happen, the Pats probably go 17-0 and win another Super Bowl. Think about Peyton Manning’s unbelievable comeback in the 2007 AFC Championship, or Stephen Gostkowski’s missed extra point a year ago in Denver. I’m not saying the Pats should have won all these games, that’s not my point. I’m saying that when you want to measure greatness in this sport, look at what happened on the years that they didn’t win the Super Bowl. They are one or two plays away. That level of consistency to go along with the rings is what greatness is, and Bill Belichick’s greatness is unmatched.
Nicholas Lou Saban Jr.
During his time in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban has accumulated an overall record of 119-19, a 7-3 postseason record, and four National Championships (Also won a National title in 2003 at LSU). Saban left Miami to take the Alabama job prior to the 2007 season, inheriting a 6-7 team without one player being selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. If college football Saturday’s in the SEC are what folks down south call heaven, that makes Nick Saban god. Just like the entire AFC East has fired any coach who can’t beat Belichick, the entire SEC has fired coaches who can’t beat Saban.
With Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp being the latest Nick Saban disciples to take head jobs in the SEC, there have been a total of 21 coaching changes from SEC schools since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. Alabama 1, SEC 21. SEC schools are so desperate to dethrone Saban that they fire anyone who can’t beat him. Since he’s been at Alabama, only three current head coaches in the SEC have coached in the SEC Chamionship game. Three! Gus Malzahn, Jim McElwain, and Nick Saban. Mind blowing stuff when you really think about it.
Now, just like we did with Belichick, let’s look at what happened the years that Nick Saban didn’t win the National Championship.
Alabama has won 4 of the last 8 National Championships. Take away the most historic play in Iron Bowl history and Nick Saban is in the National Championship game going for number 5? Another year he was stopped in the Iron Bowl by Cam Newton, reigning NFL MVP and Heisman Trophy winner. Another year, he was stopped in the National Semifinal by Ezekiel Elliott, arguably NFL MVP and at bare minimum Rookie of the Year. This year, he was stopped on a last second pick play by Clemson in the National Championship.
Kick Six, Cam Newton, Zeke Elliott, last second pick play and an unbelievable performance by Deshaun Watson. My point is that when he doesn’t win it all, he’s right there knocking on the door. And if he can win a National title with Greg McElroy and Jake Coker, you can probably lock in two with Jalen Hurts. Greatness folks, greatness.
Take your pick. If there was a hat, and inside that hat were three pieces of paper crumbled up, one with “high school game” written on it, one with “College game” on it, and one with “NFL game on it”, and you had to win one game to save your life, who are you taking? King of the North or King of the South? I’m rolling with the King of the South.
One game for my life, I want Nick Saban coaching it. Bill Belichick is unbelievable and he’s about to win Super Bowl number five, but I’ve got to go with Saban. In a game like Football where it is so hard to consistently win Championships, Nick Saban is the lead horse in the race every single year. Would love to hear some people’s thoughts in the comments section with who you would rather have. It’s an extremely interesting topic and you can’t really go wrong. Long live greatness.