Nick Saban’s record versus former assistants: How Alabama’s coach dominated Lane Kiffin, Jimbo Fisher and more

This story has been updated from a previous version.

Nick Saban has achieved everything it should be as a college football coach.

Seven national championships, 10 congress championships (one MAC, nine SECs), career win rate of 0.884, 12-time national coach title, and a host of related trivia to a player that would make the entire College Football Hall of Fame jealous .

But one stat in particular shows up more often than perhaps anything Saban has achieved: his record against former assistant coaches.

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That is a record that spans 12 seasons and has fallen victim to nine former assistants who became head coaches on 10 separate teams. And Saban defeated every one of them – except one.

To be sure, it’s not exactly a secret how Saban got the achievement. Just ask Ole Miss coach and Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who has lost to Saban twice since leaving Tuscaloosa:

“He’s undefeated compared to most people,” Kiffin said ahead of Ole’s 2021 game at Alabama (through the Clarion Ledger). “There’s a reason he’s the best in college football history. Even if people know how his position works, he’s undefeated, which is amazing. “

Kiffin certainly isn’t wrong when summarizing Saban’s record against former assistants – especially when you contextualize that winning streak. With that, Sporting News will take a look at his record against the assistants, including all-time record, win percentage, streak history and more:

What is Nick Saban’s record against former assistants?

Saban boasts a 25-1 record against his former assistants, a record that began against Tennessee coach Derek Dooley in 2010.

That win officially ended on October 9, 2021 when Jimbo Fisher’s underrated Aggies thrashed Alabama No. 1 in College Station, 41-38. It also broke Alabama’s streak of 100 consecutive wins against non-ranked opponents.

Saban still has room to improve his performance in the near future with coaching Kiffin (Ole Miss) and Fisher facing Saban in the SEC West. There’s also a chance he could meet Kirby Smart (Georgia) in the regular season or the SEC championship game.

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Which former assistants trained against Saban?

So far, nine of Saban’s former assistants have coached against him: Dooley, Kiffin, Fisher, Smart, Mark Dantonio, Jeremy Pruitt, Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain and Billy Napier. He has beaten Fisher the most, four times, coaching with him every year since 2017. He has a 3-0 record against five assistants; a 2-0 record against Kiffin and Dantonio; and a 1-0 record against Napoli.

Here is where each of Saban’s former assistants served under him…

  • Mark Dantonio: Defensive Defender (Michigan State, 1995-00)
  • Jimbo Fisher: Offensive coordinator/midfielder (LSU, 2000-04)
  • Derek Dooley: Tight finish (LSU, 2000-02); head coach association/backward run (LSU, 2003-04); tight end (Miami Dolphins, 2005-06)
  • Does Muschamp: Linebackers (LSU, 2001); defense coordinator (LSU, 2002-04); associate head coach (Miami Dolphins, 2005)
  • Smart Kirby: Defensive defender (LSU, 2004); safety (Miami Dolphins, 2006); associate head coach/defensive defender (Alabama, 2007); defensive coordinator (Alabama, 2008-15)
  • Jeremy Pruitt: Director of Player Development (Alabama, 2007-09); defensive defender (Alabama, 2010-12); defensive line/backup coordinator (Alabama, 2016-17)
  • Jim McElwain: Offensive coordinator/midfielder (Alabama, 2008-11)
  • Billy Napier: Analyst (Alabama, 2011); wide receiver (Alabama, 2013-16)
  • Lane Kiffin: Offensive coordinator/midfielder (Alabama, 2014-16)

… And his achievements compared to each of them (plus where they trained against him):

Coach Team) Record versus Saban
Mark Dantonio the state of Michigan 0-2
Jimbo Fisher Florida (0-1), Texas A&M (1-3) 1-4
Derek Dooley Tennessee 0-3
Will Muschamps Florida (0-2), South Carolina (0-1) 0-3
Smart Kirby Georgia 0-4
Jeremy Pruitt Tennessee 0-3
Jim McElwain State of Colorado (0-1), Florida (0-2) 0-3
Billy Napier Louisiana 0-1
Lane Kiffin Ole Miss 0-2

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Nick Saban’s win rate compared to former assistants

Saban boasts an average win rate of 23.8 points per game over his former assistants – a 1.11-483 point advantage in the previous 26 games.

Saban scored the most points against Fisher (206), and lost to Dantonio the least (seven). He has the highest average win percentage against Napoli (42 points per game) and the biggest point difference against Dooley (93 points):

Coach Differential point The edge of victory
Mark Dantonio 87-7 (plus-80) 40 points per game
Jimbo Fisher 206-127 (plus-79) 15.8 points per game
Derek Dooley 122-29 (plus-93) 31 points per game
Will Muschamps 127-54 (plus-73) 24.3 points per game
Smart Kirby 143-99 (plus-44) 11 points per game
Jeremy Pruitt 141-51 (plus-90) 30 points per game
Jim McElwain 114-37 (plus-77) 25.6 points per game
Billy Napier 56-14 (plus 42) 42 points per game
Lane Kiffin 105-69 (plus 36) 18 points per game

Which assistant came closest to defeating Nick Saban?

Fisher, considering him the only one to get a win over his former coach. This was his first of five attempts and the first of four as a Texas A&M coach.

Honorable mention goes to Kiffin, who gave Saban everything he could handle in a 63-48 loss at Oxford, Miss. Special consideration should also be given to McElwain, who coached his Gators to a 29-15 loss in the 2015 SEC. Championship game.

Smart also nearly beat Saban, bringing him to the brink in the 2018 College Football Playoff championship game. Georgia took a 13-0 lead at halftime, then went 20-7 in the third half, before losing 26-23 in extra time. The Bulldogs lost a roughly similar game later that year in the SEC championship game, leading 21-7 in the second quarter – then leading 28-14 in the third quarter – before falling to 35-28.

In 2020, Georgia is 24-17 ahead of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, dropping to 24-20 after halftime. The Bulldogs maintained the lead until the fourth minute of the third inning, when Mac Jones hit the ball at 90 yards for Jaylen Waddle to give Alabama a permanent lead in a 41-27 victory. Smart has also limited Saban to the lowest win rate: nine points per game. They also led 10-0 in the 2021 SEC championship game before losing 41-24 . on aggregate

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Nick Saban History vs Former Assistants

Saban vs. Derek Dooley

  • October 23, 2010: No. 7 Alabama 41, Tennessee 10
  • October 22, 2011: No. 2 Alabama 37, Tennessee 6
  • October 20, 2012: No. 1 Alabama 44, Tennessee 13

Saban vs. Jim McElwain

  • September 21, 2013: No. 1 Alabama 31, Colorado State 6
  • December 5, 2015: No. 2 Alabama 29, No. 18 Florida 15 (SEC championship)
  • December 3, 2016: No. 1 Alabama 54, No. 15 Florida 16 (SEC championship)

Saban vs. Mark Dantonio

  • January 1, 2011: No. 15 Alabama 49, No. 7 Michigan State 7 (Capital One Bowl 2011)
  • December 31, 2015: No. 2 Alabama 38, No. 3 Michigan State 0 (2015 Cotton Bowl Semifinals)

Saban vs. Will Muschamps

  • October 1, 2011: No. 3 Alabama 38, No. 12 Florida 10
  • September 20, 2014: No. 3 Alabama 42, Florida 21
  • September 14, 2019: No. 2 Alabama 47, South Carolina 23

Saban and Jimbo Fisher

  • September 2, 2017: No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 3 Florida State 7
  • September 22, 2018: No. 1 Alabama 45, No. 22 Texas A&M 23
  • October 12, 2019: No. 1 Alabama 47, No. 24 Texas A&M 28
  • October 3, 2020: No. 2 Alabama 52, No. 13 Texas A&M 24
  • October 9, 2021: Texas A&M 41, No. 1 Alabama 38

Saban vs. Kirby Smart

January 8, 2018: 4 Alabama 26, 3 Georgia 23 (overtime) (College Soccer League Championship)
December 1, 2018: No. 1 Alabama 35, No. 4 Georgia 28 (SEC championship)
October 17, 2020: 2 Alabama 41, 3 Georgia 24
December 4, 2021: No. 3 Alabama 41, No. 1 Georgia 24

Saban vs. Jeremy Pruitt

October 20, 2018: No. 1 Alabama 58, Tennessee 21
October 19, 2019: No. 1 Alabama 35, Tennessee 13
October 24, 2020: No. 1 Alabama 48, Tennessee 17

Saban and Billy Napier

September 29, 2018: No. 1 Alabama 56, Louisiana 14

Saban vs. Lane Kiffin

October 10, 2020: No. 1 Alabama 63, Ole Miss 48
October 2, 2021: No. 1 Alabama 42, No. 12 Ole Miss 21

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