January 3, 2007, 12 years ago Thursday, then-Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban (after weeks of direct denials) did in fact resign and go become the head coach at the University of Alabama.
And the fortunes of the NFL team in South Florida and the SEC powerhouse have gone opposite directions for over a decade.
First, Saban was only a moderate success in Miami going 15 – 17. His first year was promising at 9 and 7, but then, the team dipped to 6-10 in year two with rumors everywhere that he would return to the college game. That’s because, he had successfully coached at Michigan State and then at LSU, where the Tigers had won the 2003 National Championship.
Sure enough, the Crimson Tide came calling and Saban took the job. And, after years of struggling for national relevance, Alabama was guided to its first national title by Saban in 2009. They have one four more titles, since then, including two of the last three College Football Playoff Championships.
There is no disputing the Saban is the greatest modern-day college football coach of all time with that resume’ above.
There is also no disputing that the Dolphins the continued on an odyssey of losing and trying to figure out their next great coach might be.
Miami hired Bill Parcells to run their football operations and he hired the late Tony Sparano to be the next coach. Miami did win the AFC East 2008, however, Sparano faltered his last couple of seasons, finishing with a 29 – 32 record and was fired in the middle of 2011.
Former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was hired in 2012, and never made the playoffs with the 24 – 28 record before being fired himself, early in the 2015 season. And, the most recent full-time head coach, Adam Gase, did have the team in the playoffs his first year of 2016 before two losing seasons that got him terminated on Monday.
So if you weren’t keeping track with all of that above, Miami has hired and fired four head coaches with only two playoff appearances in the 12 years since Saban’s departure.
Look. Nobody is suggesting that Saban would have had widespread success in the NFL. In fact most of his success in college is due to him being almost “the dictator” in charge of everything in Tuscaloosa, and that doesn’t work with pro athletes.
However, no one can dispute that his decision to go back to college football and specifically, Alabama, has turned into arguably the greatest decision by any coach to go to any program in history.
When you consider that with Urban Meyer’s retirement, there is no other current college coach with at least two national championships and the 67 year old Saban is going for his seventh one overall and 6th at Alabama in 12 years, that’s pretty amazing.
It all happened because he no longer wanted to coach the Miami Dolphins 12 years ago this week.
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