For 11 of the past 13 college football seasons Nick Saban has been at the forefront of the Ballay household when the college football season rolls around. The more I look at his journey, the more I am reminded of Anakin Skywalker's rise and fall.
Much like Anakin, Saban was a relatively unknown coach. His background had multiple stops that included the Cleveland Browns, Toledo, Tatooine University and Michigan State. LSU saw something in this coach that no one else recognized. Saban overhauled an entire program. No longer was the goal a bid to the Independence Bowl, rather it was to win championships.
But Saban was never like the other coaches. He wanted more. The NFL, his temptation, plagued LSU offseasons every year until finally on Christmas morning of 2004 he departed for greener pastures in Miami.
To understand the saga of Nick Saban/Anakin Skywalker you have to understand how the lust of power go hand in hand with evil. So on January 3, 2007 Saban submitted himself to the Dark Side and became etched in the Ballay household for all eternity as Darth Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. A 5 year run at LSU, capped with an amazing 2003 championship, was slowly choked and crushed under the impenetrable reality that our greatest rival*, our most hated fanbase was being led by LSU's former coach Nick Saban.
Et tu Saban?
For 7 insufferable seasons LSU has had to compete against the Nick Saban Process. Every recruiting season and game was a battle. There were great victories and terrible defeats. The word heartbreak had new meaning when it was one of your own that defeated you. He represented the greatest of betrayals. A modern day Benedict Arnold. The man who once led the Tigers to the Promised Land was now, much like Anakin Skywalker, the enemy.
But all sagas have an end, do they not? Evil can not triumph forever. Sooner or later the Empire has to fall and the stolen recruits have to stop. Eventually the whole operation comes crashing down. It happens quickly and without much notice. Anakin Skywalker was eventually saved after he threw Darth Sidious down the pit. How does this Nick Saban story end? Does he head back to Tuscaloosa and coach for the remainder of his life in crimson. Or does he leave the Dark Side?
Maybe it's Texas, maybe it's somewhere else, but his story must end. Chris Davis's 109 punt return to win the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide was as symbolic and meaningful as the blowing up of the Death Star.
Search your feelings Nick. I know there's still good in you. Now please get the bleep out of Tuscaloosa.
*I'm well aware LSU's “most hated” rival changes every 10 years.
P.S. Les Miles is Boba Fett; Charlie Weis is Jabba the Hutt