Posted at 11:13 am on November 5, 2018

ENGSTER: Tide rolls on under the spell of Saban

Jonathan Mailhes
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Bobby Jindal was governor and Les Miles was football coach the last time LSU scored a point in Tiger Stadium against Alabama. Almost 800 days have passed since the Bengals lost 20-13 in overtime to the Tide on Nov. 8, 2014. The last two outings at Death Valley against Bama have seen LSU lose 10-0 and 29-0, so it will be at least six years between scores for LSU at home against the crimson invaders.

The Saturday shellacking is the worst LSU outcome against Alabama since Nick Saban’s Tigers were shut out 31-0 at home by Dennis Franchione and the Red Elephants on Nov. 16, 2002. Franchione had the audacity to dishonor the memory of Bear Bryant and lean against the goal posts in pre-game workouts. He finished by chewing out Saban at game’s end in response to rumors of words Saban never spoke about the hallowed treasure at Tuscaloosa.

Franchione led Bama to a ten-win season in 2002, then defected for big money to Texas A&M. Saban long ago exacted revenge against a fellow restless soul who ended a once promising career by piloting the Texas State University Bobcats to a 39-43 record from 2011-2015.

The monolithic program at Bryant-Denny Stadium survived Franchione’s departure and four seasons of Mike Shula, who was 26-23 on the field and 10-23 on the record due to the forfeit of 16 wins.

Despite another humbling result against Saban and crew, LSU is certain to win at least eight games for the 19th straight season. The streak began at the advent of the 21st Century when Saban abruptly left East Lansing, MI to arrive in TigerTown where he inherited an entity that had posted eight losing seasons in the previous eleven years.

Saban promptly turned a 3-8 disaster from 1999 into a unit which improved to 8-4 in 2000 and beat Alabama 30-28 on Nov. 4 of that year in Tiger Stadium, LSU’s first victory against Bama in Baton Rouge in 31 years.

Only three coaches have scored wins in the Alabama-LSU football series in 20 games between the teams in this century. Nick Saban has 14 wins (ten at Alabama and four at LSU), Les Miles has five victories in the series and Franchione won the other decision.

Here is look at the 21st Century matchups between the SEC super powers.

Year                                       Score                                                     Winning Coach

2000                                       LSU 30 Alabama 26                          Nick Saban

2001                                       LSU 35 Alabama 21                          Nick Saban

2002                                       Alabama 31 LSU 0                             Dennis Franchione

2003                                       LSU 27   Alabama 3                           Nick Saban

2004                                       LSU 26 Alabama 10                          Nick Saban

2005                                       LSU 16 Alabama 13 (OT)                Les Miles

2006                                       LSU 28 Alabama 14                          Les Miles

2007                                       LSU 41 Alabama 34                          Les Miles

2008                                       Alabama 27 LSU 21 (OT)                Nick Saban

2009                                       Alabama 24 LSU 15          `               Nick Saban

2010                                       LSU 24 Alabama 21                          Les Miles

2011                                       LSU 9 Alabama  6 (OT)                    Les Miles

2012 (BCS Title Game)    Alabama 21 LSU 0                             Nick Saban

2012                                       Alabama 21 LSU 17                          Nick Saban

2013                                       Alabama 38 LSU 17                          Nick Saban

2014                                       Alabama 20 LSU 13 (OT)                Nick Saban

2015                                       Alabama 30 LSU 16                          Nick Saban

2016                                       Alabama 10 LSU 0                             Nick Saban

2017                                       Alabama 24 LSU 10                          Nick Saban

2018                                       Alabama 29 LSU 0                             Nick Saban

Saban’s record in the series is 14-4 even though Alabama holds a slight 11-9 advantage since 1999. LSU took nine of the first 12 matchups to open the century before Alabama reeled off its latest streak of eight in a row.

Alabama enjoys a 53-25-5 overall edge in the series. In modern time (1958 to the present), these are the records of LSU coaches against Alabama while directing the Tigers.

LSU Coach                           Record against Alabama                               Percent

Paul Dietzel                        1-0                                                                          100

Bill Arnsparger                   2-0-1                                                                      83.3

Nick Saban                          4-1                                                                          80.0

Les Miles                             5-7                                                                          41.7

Jerry Stovall                        1-3                                                                          25.0

Mike Archer                       1-3                                                                          25.0

Curley Hallman                  1-3                                                                          25.0

Gerry DiNardo                   1-4                                                                          20.0

Charles McClendon         2-14                                                                       14.3

Ed Orgeron                         0-3                                                                          0

Total since 1958                18-38-1                                                                 32.5

LSU football coaches are judged by by their records against Alabama. Orgeron must score a win over the Tide before his contract expires or chances of him receiving another agreement are minimal. Arnsparger is recalled as an outstanding coach at LSU because he conquered Alabama, not because his teams were routed in three bowl games.

Saban was marketable to the NFL due to his 4-1 record vs. the Tide when he was employed in Louisiana. McClendon lost 41 conference games in 18 years, but 14 defeats to Bear Bryant sent McClendon into early retirement at 56. Bryant accounted for nearly 35 percent of McClendon’s conference defeats.

Orgeron, who at 57 is a year older than Mac was when he departed LSU, has half of his SEC setbacks at LSU against Alabama. Coach O is 14-3 against the rest of the SEC and 0-3 vs. Alabama in parts of three seasons.

Twenty years ago, Saban was already a seasoned veteran of the sidelines at 47 and had recorded a pedestrian 17-14-1 record in the Big Ten in four years at Michigan State. Now he is regaled as the greatest coach in college football history and is possibly headed for his seventh NCAA championship in his last 14 years at the helm of LSU and Alabama.

Saban is not contemplating retirement. His current contract, which pays him a base salary of more than $11 million per season, does not expire until Jan. 31, 2025 when the coach will be a spry 74 years old.

Saban has seen 39 assistant coaches come and go in a dozen years at Alabama, yet he soldiers on at a pinnacle not seen in major college sports since John Wooden collected ten NCAA basketball titles between 1964 and 1975 at UCLA.

Wooden’s final salary at Westwood was $35,000 in the 1974-75 season. Wooden’s legendary tenure ended at 64, and he was too poor to live in the UCLA neighborhood. Wooden spent the final 35 years of his life at a modest residence in Encino.

Saban is earning around $200,000 for every quarter his team plays, and the University of Alabama brass will tell you he is worth every dime and more. His housing is appropriately opulent for the king of college football, and a multi-million dollar palace is paid for by the university.

When he re-entered the SEC under Bryant’s enormous shadow in 2007, Saban had logged a dozen previous stops in a three-decade career. It appears the man from West Virginia will die in Alabama, and the question is open as to how many LSU coaches he will outlast.

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