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Tyler’s Take: Saban & Cal – Polar Opposites Yet One And The Same

Tyler B.
Which SEC coach does this describe?
  1. Best recruiter and coach in the SEC.
  2. Two-year professional coaching job with mild success.
  3. Returned to college with major success at one school > moved to a better school with even bigger success.
  4. Awakened a sleeping giant of a program and returned it to elite status almost overnight.
  5. Coached multiple programs to a #1 ranking.
  6. First head coaching job around 1989.
  7. Born in WVU-Pennsylvania area.
  8. Played college, but not professional ball.
  9. “Defense first” guy who coaches like he’s possessed.
  10. Coaches the most tradition-rich school in the SEC (top-three in the country).

So, who are we talking about?

Al from Dadeville: “CNS, of course!”

Willy from Waddy: “Cal, of course!”

Herbstreit/Bilas from Bristol: “Nope, it’s both.”

Tyler from Louisville: “Yes, we have two coaches who are the best in their respective profession despite being personality polar opposites. And, yes, I do know that Nick Saban has three national title belts to Cal’s zero.”

For a sample size let’s look at the last three years for both coaches – UK’s obviously still playing – since they are in their prime and ruling their sport.

SABAN: Two national titles… One SEC title… Overall record of 34-4 (89%)… Three top-2 recruiting classes… 19-2 (90%) at home.

CAL: Zero national titles… Two SEC titles… One Elite Eight… One Final Four… Three #1 recruiting classes… Overall record of 88-13 (85%)… 48-0 at home. (UK is by far and away the favorite for Cal to win his first national title.)

SABAN: Dictator… Process… System first, players later… Coach’s program… Don’t speak until spoken to… Coach is always right… Rigid… Static… No PR… Vanilla.

CAL: Liberator… Invisible process… Player’s first, system later…  Player’s first program… Speak before spoken to… Coach isn’t always right… Flexible…Fluid… Greatest PR guy ever… Rainbow.

Simply put, this is John Calipari enjoying the moment (first two minutes), and this is Nick Saban (1:47 mark) doing the same.

Just because the personality differences are so opposite, can it prevent the authentic belief that CNS and Cal are truly one and the same?

While Bama fans might hate and openly ignore the comparison, and UK fans marinate in the idea of it, ultimately it’s proof that there’s more than one way to skin any animal on the schedule. *Bama fans, just like Saban, Cal’s name is clean with the NCAA and he simply enjoys recruiting in the shadows of gray; just like another coach I know. And if anything, SEC fans should be cheering for the Cats and Cal so SEC domination will continue right up until spring practice.

Tyler B. works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

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