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Kirk Herbstreit on Nick Saban: ‘Put him up there with the greatest in any sport’

As Alabama coach Nick Saban continues his quest for his sixth national championship in 10 years, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit laid out the reasons why Saban is “the greatest of all time.”

Hours before Saban leads the No. 1 Crimson Tide against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for a chance to advance to the CFP national championship, Herbstreit put it in perspective.

“Guys try like crazy just to get one (championship,)” Herbstreit said. “He has a chance to get six just at Alabama. Forget about the one at LSU.

“There are just so many great things you can say about this guy. Think about the players he loses and how he replaces them. The assistant coaches he loses. He has six new assistant coaches this year. He loses coordinators that become head coaches.”

Herbstreit was quick to point out that it is more than just personnel.

“He changes with the times,” Herbstreit explained. “This was a guy who said, ‘What’s going on with this up-tempo stuff? This spread stuff? This is ruining the sport.’

“A couple of years later – after (Texas A&M quarterback) Johnny Manziel – he went out and hired Lane Kiffin and adjusted to that. All of a sudden, he has (quarterback) Tua (Tagovailoa). They are spreading people out.”

Then, of course, it is about relationships he has with his people, Herbstreit explained.

“It’s more than just the numbers,” he said. “It’s how he’s gone about it. The way he keeps his players in line. The way they respect him. They avoid complacency. Put him up there with the greatest in any sport.

“Who’s out there? John Wooden? Red Auerbach? Think of the greatest ever. And, by the way, this thing ain’t slowing down. They just signed the best class, maybe, ever. Enjoy this. In 40 years, we’ll be looking back at this era and tipping the cap to Nick Saban.”

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.

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