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How Nick Saban has fared against former assistants

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Georgia head

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart after the CFP National Championship on Jan. 8, 2018 in Atlanta. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Nick Saban has built quite the legacy during his tenure at Alabama, maintaining a college football powerhouse with yearly national title aspirations.

But Saban’s impact can be felt on campuses around the country.

A number of coaches have taken over programs of their own after working under Saban during his years at Alabama, as well as his time in charge at LSU, Michigan State and the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Among those coaches is Kirby Smart, who left Alabama ahead of the 2016 season for Georgia, where he played defensive back in the 1990s.

Entering the 2019 season, Saban is 16-0 against former assistants, beating them by a combined score of 650-220. That’s an average score of about 41-14 in those games.

Here’s a look at Saban’s past successes against his former assistants:

Derek Dooley

Dooley was hired by Saban as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at LSU in 2000, later serving in various roles, including assistant head coach at LSU. He followed Saban to the Dolphins, but left in 2007 to become head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he also served as athletic director for a time. He became the coach at Tennessee in 2010, struggling over three seasons. He currently coaches wide receivers for the Dallas Cowboys.

Saban vs. Dooley

Oct. 23, 2010: Alabama 41, Tennessee 10

Oct. 22, 2011: Alabama 37, Tennessee 6

Oct. 20, 2012: Alabama 44, Tennessee 13

Jim McElwain

Saban hired McElwain from Fresno State to be his offensive coordinator in 2008. McElwain ran the offense for four seasons, winning two national titles. He became the head coach at Colorado State before the 2012 season, leading the school to a 22-16 record over three seasons, including two bowl berths, to earn the job at Florida. His time leading the Gators started strong with two SEC East titles, but a 3-4 start to the 2017 seasons led to his dismissal.

Saban vs. McElwain

Sept. 21, 2013: Alabama 31, Colorado State 6

Dec. 5, 2015: Alabama 29, Florida 15 (SEC Championship)

Dec. 3, 2016: Alabama 54, Florida 16 (SEC Championship)

Will Muschamp

In 2001, Muschamp became Saban’s linebackers coach at LSU, becoming the team’s defensive coordinator a year later and winning a national title in 2003. He joined Saban with the Dolphins as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, but left to be a coordinator at Auburn in 2006. Muschamp later took the same job at Texas and was expected to succeed Mack Brown upon his retirement. Instead, Muschamp took the head coach job at Florida, where he went 28-21 in four seasons. After a season back at Auburn under Gus Malzahn, Muschamp took the head coaching job at South Carolina in 2016 and is 15-11 in two seasons.

Saban vs. Muschamp

Oct. 1, 2011: Alabama 38, Florida 10

Sept. 20, 2014: Alabama 42, Florida 21

Mark Dantonio

When Saban was hired to coach Michigan State in 1995, he picked Dantonio to coach defensive backs. Saban left for LSU after 1999, but Dantonio remained with Michigan State for the following season as associate head coach. After three seasons as defensive coordinator at Ohio State and head coach at Cincinnatti, Dantonio returned to Michigan State to lead the program. He is 100-45 in 11 seasons.

Saban vs. Dantonio

Jan. 1, 2011: Alabama 49, Michigan State 7 (Capital One Bowl)

Dec. 31, 2015: Alabama 38, Michigan State 0 (Cotton Bowl/CFP semifinal)

Jimbo Fisher

Fisher came under Saban’s tutelage in 2000 at LSU, serving as offensive coordinator and coaching quarterbacks. He stayed at LSU when Saban left for the Dolphins, but later joined Bobby Bowden’s staff at Florida State. Fisher took over when Bowden retired in 2010, winning the national title in 2013. Following the 2017 season, Fisher left Florida State to become head coach at Texas A&M.

Saban vs. Fisher

Sept. 2, 2017: Alabama 24, Florida State 7

Sept. 22, 2018: Alabama 45, Texas A&M 23

Kirby Smart

Smart first worked under Saban in 2004 as his defensive backs coach at LSU. In 2006, he joined Saban as safeties coach for the Miami Dolphins. When Saban left the NFL for Alabama in 2007, Smart followed as an assistant coach and became the defensive coordinator in 2008. After the 2015 season, Smart returned to Georgia, his alma mater, as the head coach.

Saban vs. Smart

Jan. 8, 2018: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (national championship)

Dec. 1, 2018: Alabama 35, Georgia 28 (SEC championship)

Billy Napier

After being let go as Clemson's offensive coordinator in 2010, Napier worked  for Saban as an offensive analyst during 2011. After a year at Colorado State, He began a four-year run coaching Alabama's receivers. One year after serving as offensive coordinator at Arizona State, Napier took the head coaching job for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns.

Saban vs. Napier

Sept. 29, 2018: Alabama 56, Louisiana 14

Jeremy Pruitt

A former Alabama defensive back, Pruitt joined Saban's staff in Tuscaloosa in 2007 as a Director of Player Development. He coached the Tide's defensive backs from 2010 to 2012 before spells with Florida State and Georgia. He was Saban's defensive coordinator from 2016 to 2017, a job he left to take over the Tennessee program in 2018.

Saban vs. Pruitt

Oct. 20, 2018: Alabama 58, Tennessee 21

 

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