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It was a plot straight from 1980s Hollywood: true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, sporting long blond locks, led his team to victory in the college national championship game. In doing so, his Clemson Tigers felled the higher-rated reigning champs, the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by one Nick Saban. This victory not only gave the team the championship, a 15-0 season, and its second defeat of Alabama in the championship in four years, it also took down that coach, a man many love to hate.
Deviating from the script, it’s not that Saban is an actual supervillain. Sure, he doesn’t express much emotion, he never seems particularly happy about his victories, he has a habit of quitting his job at odd times that leave the teams and fans in a lurch, but he’s never attempted to seize the Eastern seaboard or even bailed on a trust fall. Mostly, he just runs super efficient programs with a penchant for winning lots of games, excluding his brief foray into the NFL.
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Yet Saban and the Crimson Tide went down in the championship game and, this time, to the aforementioned freshman quarterback. It didn’t help that Saban made some questionable calls, notably the failed fake field goal. For his detractors, it did help that it was Alabama’s biggest loss under Saban and that Clemson simply trounced him.
The would-be supervillain with a penchant for winning went down, and went down hard. He went down to a team led by a 19-year-old Johnny Utah. Saban, a man Sports Illustrated once named one of “The Most Disliked People in Sports” mostly because of that penchant for winning, left the field a loser after emerging victorious just last year. The New England Patriots of college ball didn’t even put up a fight––they simply got schooled from beginning to end.
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Drove my Ford to the fjord, but the fjord was dry. . .