Nick Saban is unmistakably a West Virginian. His mannerisms, the way he looks, talks and conducts himself, everything about him is North Central West Virginia.
It’s surprising that he ever left home. Growing up in Monongah, Saban said that watching Mountaineer football games was “the highlight of his young years.” Out of high school, Saban was undersized and was not offered a scholarship by West Virginia University. He reportedly wanted to play for the Mountaineers, but he took the scholarship offered by Kent State.
According to United States Senator Joe Manchin, who considers Saban one of his best friends, “The biggest mistake WVU ever made was not offering young Nick Saban a scholarship. He was one of the best athletes to ever come out of the area.”
Although Saban briefly coached at West Virginia during the 1978-1979 season at the defensive backs coach, he quickly moved on to Ohio State to coach the same position. He moved around quite a bit – from Navy to Michigan State to the Houston Oilers in the NFL to Toledo to the Cleveland Browns back to Michigan State before going to LSU, then the Miami Dolphins and ultimately to Alabama.
Saban, who is widely considered one of the best coaches in football history, has had incredible success during his career. However, his six national championships wouldn’t mean as much as one national championship for his home state.
West Virginia certainly made the best, most reasonable choice when they hired Neal Brown a year ago, but really, Nick Saban should have decided to come home when the opening became available. Saban has one life to live and bringing a national championship to his home, to the great state of West Virginia, for Mountaineer Nation, would have been the greatest accomplishment of his lifetime.
And he would have won a national championship in Morgantown. For all of the disadvantages that West Virginia has, Nick Saban would have put the team in position to win it all in three seasons or less.
Saban’s brilliance on the sidelines is simply unmatched and he may be the only person in the world that could realistically make the West Virginia Mountaineers a football powerhouse.
Neal Brown is the head coach and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the world (except for Saban), but Nick Saban had an opportunity to return home and become a God. Perhaps there are 7.5 million reasons why he chose to stay at Alabama, but all the money in the world can’t compare to coming home.