A Fourth National Title Would Make Nick Saban Greater Than Bear Bryant

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 4, 2012

Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick SabanUSA TODAY Sports

At this time six years ago, Alabama was coming off a stretch that saw the Crimson Tide win 26 games over the previous four seasons, struggling with scholarship limitations from probation and in the midst of looking for a replacement for previous head coach Mike Shula.

After some serious flirtation with then-West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, Alabama landed then-Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, and the rest is history.

After a rough start to his Alabama career, Saban's Crimson Tide teams have been at the top or in the middle of the national title discussion every year since the start of 2008, save for the final three weeks of the 2010 season.

Over the last five years, Saban has led his team to three SEC West titles, two SEC championships, two BCS National Championships and the possibility of a third in a little over one month's time.

It's success that is unprecedented during the BCS era and has vaulted Saban into the same conversation as legendary Alabama head coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant in the debate for the best head coach in Alabama history.

So would a win over Notre Dame on Jan. 7, 2013, vault Saban ahead of Bryant?

In terms of resume, of course not.

Bryant won six national championships, 14 SEC titles (13 at Alabama) and was the SEC Coach of the Year 12 times.

Saban isn't going to coach long enough to even sniff those results. But it was a different time then; in the day and age of overall scholarship limits, signing class restrictions and tougher competition in the SEC, what Saban has done not only at Alabama, but at LSU, is more impressive than what Bryant accomplished.

But only by a little bit.

Winning three of the last four national championships would solidify Saban as the best college football of our generation and establish Alabama as a modern-day college football dynasty.

He has a .827 winning percentage at Alabama (not including vacated wins from the 2007 season), a .738 career SEC winning percentage and another BCS title when factoring in his time at LSU.

Bryant had a .824 career winning percentage at Alabama, and a .797 winning percentage when factoring in his time at Kentucky.

To put it more simply, he will have done exactly what Bryant did at Alabama but under much more difficult circumstances.

Debating between Saban and Bryant is like choosing between filet mignon and New York strip. You can't go wrong either way.

But if Saban hoists the crystal football on Jan. 7, it absolutely would be a legitimate discussion.