Six degrees in Sunshine State to Nick Saban

These days if you are  connected  within six degrees to Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban   odds are things are going pretty well for you and no one knows that more than Saban’s opponent on January 1stthen Michigan State Head Coach Mike Dantonio. Dantonio coached under Saban from 1995-1999 as a defensive back coach at Michigan State. “Coach Saban really probably been my biggest mentor as a coach,” Dantonio said about Saban who he got a chance to talk to for 5 minutes at Capital One Bowl promotion promoting the game as Dantonio brings in a 11-1 co-big 10 champions ranked number 7 in AP Poll and 9 in BCS Poll Spartan team. “I got tremendous respect for Nick as a coach and organizer, I probably sit here as a Head Coach because of him bringing me here. I’m very appreciative of that.”

Saban was hired by Michigan State’s  Head Coach George Perles in 1983 to be his secondary coach, Saban coached 5 seasons there and was part of Spartans  Big 10 Championship in 1987 and Rose Bowl win over USC in the 1988 Rose Bowl. “George Perles is the first guy who really gave me an opportunity and the responsibility of being a coordinator,” said Saban in teleconference prior to arriving to Orlando for preparations for the game .Saban came back in 1995 to replace Perles as Head Coach of Spartans where Saban went 34-24-1 in 5 seasons before leaving prior to the 2000 Capital One Bowl to become the Head Coach at LSU. “We coached there for 10 years and we have a lot of great relationships with people at Michigan State University, said Saban who will coach against Spartans for the first time since he left there. “I’ve got a lot of friends there.”

The connections for Saban don’t end in the opponent but also has connections with the state that he is coaching in the bowl game and the stadium itself.  Saban returns to Citrus Bowl where he suffered one of his toughest losses of his career as it was his last game as Head Coach at LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl where LSU led 25-24 with one play left but Iowa quarterback Drew Tate threw a 56 yard touchdown pass to Warren Holiday to give Iowa a thrilling 30-25 win. Saban left LSU to become the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Saban coached 2 seasons with Dolphins (2005-2006) before going back to College Football taking over Alabama, Saban defensive coordinator with Dolphins in 2005 was Will Muschamp who Saban brought from LSU. Muschamp and Saban are now in same conference once again in SEC only this time as opponent as Muschamp is new Head Coach of Florida.  “Will did a great job for us,” said Saban on Muschamp who is still a close friend of his. “Were happy for him and his family he is a great friend and we have a tremendous amount of respect it doesn’t mean we have to become enemies except when we play that particular game.”

Alabama comes to Gainesville to play the Gators next season in that reunion but Muschamp not the only Head Coach he is close within the sunshine state as Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher was Saban offensive coordinator at LSU and Fisher was the one that recommended Muschamp to join them at LSU, the result they brought a National Championship to LSU in 2003.

So  if you want to be a successful coach in College Football , try to get yourself within six degrees of Nick Saban  and get on his coaching staff and you have  success it least that’s what they’re hoping for in Gainesville and  Tallahassee  as success there will have in some aspects have Saban’s finger prints on it.  Now for Saban to win SEC Championships, Bowl Games, and National Titles he have  has to compete against his friends in recruiting trail and on the field and that will be no different on Saturday at the Citrus Bowl as he have a lot of memories around him and  when he looks on the opposite sidelines.

 News and Notes

  • Nick Saban is not the only former Michigan State Head Coach coaching in the Capital One Bowl with connections to Michigan State as former Spartans Head Coach Bobby Williams who coached at East Lansing from 1999-2002 with his Spartan coming in 2000 Capital One Bowl win over Florida is now the  Alabama tight end coach and special teams coordinator.
  • – Alabama running back Mark Ingram ‘s father, Mark Ingram Sr. was a wide receiver for Michigan State and was drafted in 1stround of 1987 draft by the New York Giants where he was part of Giants super bowl team in 1990. Ingram Sr played in NFL for Giants, Dolphins, Packers and Eagles in a career that went from 1987-1996. Ingram Sr is currently serving time on charges of bank fraud and money laundering as well as jumping bail as he failed to turn himself in as he was arrested on January 2, 2009 as he was getting ready to watch his son play in 09 Sugar Bowl. Now Ingram JR, could be playing his last game as a Crimson Tide against his father almamater. Ingram a junior is projected as a 1stround pick.
  • Last year the big story that came out of the Capital One Bow was the poor field conditions, this season it figures not be an issue as the Citrus Bowl now has field turf and there was no issues in the Champs Sports Bowl as North Carolina State defeated # 22 West Virginia 23-7.
  • Here are postgame coverage of Wolfpack win over West Virginia
  •   N.C.State postgame following win with Head Coach Tom O’Brien, Champs Sports Bowl MVP junior Quarterback Russell Wilson, and senior linebacker Nate Irving.
  • N.C.State senior wide receiver Jarvis Williams who played high school football at Jones High School talks in postgame about his homecoming return  and playing in Orlando twicw this season including against UCF.
  • West Virginia postgame following loss with Head Coach Bill Stewart and sophomore Quarterback Geno Smith.