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Mark Martin's Notepad

Ole Saint Nick Wins Another Title
January 8, 2013

Mark Martin Nick Saban missed the game of college football.

So after spending some time in the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins, he decided to take the Alabama Crimson Tide up on its offer to work in Tuscaloosa.

It’s interesting to note that Saban won his latest national crown in Sun Life Stadium – home of the Dolphins.

Saban’s Crimson Tide team blasted Notre Dame on Monday night (January 7) for the BCS championship.

Since coming to Alabama, Saban and company have now won three of the last four. It gives Saban, a native of Marion County in West Virginia, his fourth as a head coach.

Saban also won a crown while guiding the LSU program before making the move back to the NFL, where he had once worked as an assistant coach for a couple of franchises.

Before luring Saban to Alabama, the school had actually courted Rich Rodriguez. That was in December of 2006. Coach Rod chose to stay in Morgantown, but only for one more year.
The following December he was gone to Michigan and is now the head coach at Arizona.

Saban hails from Monongah. Rodriguez grew up in Grant Town. Both were star athletes at rural Marion County schools. Saban was a Monongah Lion, Rodriguez launched his high school athletic career at tiny Fairview.

Before Rodriguez’s high school days were over, the likes of Monongah, Mannington, Fairview and Barrackville consolidated to form North Marion. Rodriguez was a Class AAA First Teamer in both football and basketball at NMHS before moving on to WVU where he was a walk-on defensive back who later earned loads of playing time while on scholarship.

Saban left West Virginia to play football at Kent State. He married his Marion County sweetheart, the former Terry Constable, and set sail on what has been a magnificent coaching career.

He was back in the Mountain State for a few years to work on Frank Cignetti’s staff at WVU.
A stern disciplinarian, Saban never lets up. The joke is that he never seems to enjoy his success. He has been seen cracking a smile – a very nice smile at that.

His latest title adds yet another layer to Marion County’s athletic lore.
The area is home to not one, but two members of Pro Football’s Hall of Fame in Sam Huff and the late Frank Gatski. Both played their high school ball at old Farmington High – home of the Fighting Farmers.

While things didn’t work out for Rodriguez at Michigan, he has certainly made a name for himself as a successful coach starting at Glenville State and later WVU. He won a bowl game in his first year at Arizona.

Fielding Yost, who grew up in Fairview, was a coaching legend at Michigan.

The county produced one of the most celebrated Olympians of all-time in the lovely Mary Lou Retton.

There are countless others.

And as another college football season comes to an end, Ole Saint Nick once again basks in the glow of having the best team and adds to his legacy of being one of the sport’s best coaches of all time.

He’s come a long way since playing sports for his father during his days of youth. He also learned the value of hard work by staying busy with various duties at his father’s gas station and Dairy Queen.

Saban is likely celebrating by downing one of his favorites – Little Debbie Oatmeal Cakes.
All the while thinking about winning yet another national crown.


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