Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dare We Say It? Saban Greater Than Bear His Three National Titles in Four Years Has Started a Debate

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dare We Say It? Saban Greater Than Bear His Three National Titles in Four Years Has Started a Debate

Article excerpt

HOOVER, Ala. -- Bear Bryant is buried just a few miles away amid the live oaks and longleaf pines in the Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Birmingham. There is just a simple 18-inch ground marker that denotes his grave:

PAUL WILLIAM BRYANT SR.

SEPT. 11, 1913

JAN. 26, 1983

But I'm here to tell you today as I'm standing in the Hyatt Regency hotel lobby with a bunch of crazy Alabama fans that Bear Bryant is not dead after all. He has been resurrected and lives within the man these fans have been waiting on for hours ... just so they can catch a glimpse of him and yell "Roll Tide!" and "We love you, coach!" and "Woooooo-wooooooo!" as he walks by.

Nick Saban made his royal entrance here at SEC Media Days with all the reverence of Napoleon returning from Elba or Johnny Manziel arriving for Happy Hour. Shannon Villa, a 23-year-old 'Bama fan who took off work at Walmart to be here, says he is "in awe" at the mere sight of Saban.

"A lot of us younger Alabama fans weren't alive when Bear Bryant was coaching," says Villa, who is wearing a hat that is the likeness of a Crimson Tide national championship ring. "In my mind, coach Saban is greater than coach Bryant."

In my mind, too.

Not long ago, such talk would have been 'Bama blasphemy, but now it is becoming an accepted point of contention.

"I never thought the conversation would even exist, but if Nick Saban wins another national title, I think it's a very legitimate conversation," says Paul Finebaum, the nationally recognized Alabama radio host who recently accepted a job with ESPN.

Question: Why does Saban have to win ANOTHER national title before it's a legitimate conversation? He's already won four championships -- three at Alabama, one at LSU -- compared to Bryant's six. Saban's won two in a row, three of the past four and has done it playing in the most dominant, dynastic era not only in SEC history but in college football history. Four different programs have won championships in the SEC's unprecedented run of seven straight national titles. …

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