“But there’s no question Nick Saban has topped the Bear in championships. He’s made people tried of Alabama.
“My career brought me to Alabama, and I was very pleased to arrive here at the same time Bryant was running the wishbone and winning championships again. I got my Ph.D. at the University of Texas when Darrell Royal was running the wishbone. So my teaching career sort of coincided with Oklahoma as an opponent and recognition that when I was at Texas and here at Alabama, I was at places there was some real football royalty, even if the overall image of the state wasn’t so good.”
Joseph Stitt is an Alabama fan born in the 1970s who now lives in Birmingham.
“Their flaws are kind of interesting to me,” Stitt said of Bryant and Saban. “One thing people really adored about Bryant was sometimes, if you weren’t listening careful, you weren’t sure what he was saying.”
Stitt said wide receiver Joey Jones, who later was head coach at South Alabama, told a good story in a book he wrote, In Good Hands, about his Crimson Tide experience. “A story about Bryant being up in his tower, and obviously angry, and shouting into the bullhorn, and none of the players and none of the assistant coaches could understand what he was saying. So the assistant coaches started yelling at everybody, telling them to work harder. That was as good as they could do.
“And Saban, too, is so obsessive. You admire it but think it’s kind of funny, that he’s up 40 points, and as his veins bulging out of his neck that somebody missed a coverage assignment on the third-team defense. That’s why we’ve been as successful as we have, so it’s funny and serious kind of at the same time.”
Tim Rutledge of Northport, Alabama, is a 58-year-old with a unique perspective – his father played and coached for Bryant, but Rutledge concedes that Saban is a mountainpeak personality.
“I think both these guys have got to be given credit for being able to recognize changes and being able to change and go with the flow,” Rutledge said. “Coach Bryant, being able to change and go to the wishbone. Now with coach Saban, we want to ground and pound and three yards and a cloud of dust, but he realized you’ve got to score points. He’s done a good job of changing with the times. What coach Saban’s doing right now is undeniably phenomenal.”