Nick Saban makes people cry

 You would’ve thought it was Justin Bieber making an appearance at Georgia high schools this past week.

  When this A-lister walked down the halls, there were people who actually broke down in tears upon sight.

   No, this wasn’t Lady Gaga or somebody from Hollywood.

  It was Nick Saban, probably the greatest college football coach in history.

  When you guide your team to three out of four national championships, you can have that type of Elvis-like effect on bystanders.

  “Yes, it was unbelievable,” Ridgeland High School coach Mark Mariakis said with a laugh, confirming the tears of joy that were shed at his school.

  “It was a state of disbelief that Coach Saban was in our school. It was a frenzy. We had to strategically go down the hall at certain times, meeting teachers, and going from Point A to Point B. Coach Saban was as professional and classy, and handled it as well as anybody could’ve. I know he’s used to it.

  “Once one kid or teacher saw him, the text messages and tweets started flying. The next thing you know, little heads are poking outside of classrooms. And it was hard to tell the kids not to come out and get autographs when the teachers were coming out and getting autographs.”

  The Great One was at Ridgeland to visit one of Alabama’s top remaining targets, 5-star safety Vonn Bell. The funny thing is that this was Saban second trip to Ridgeland. On his first one around four years ago (to sign another Ridgeland player), Saban could strut by the classrooms with only a few people paying attention.

  “But that was before Alabama had won the first one,” Mariakis said.

  The high school coach had his own brush with greatness this past week. When Saban took a seat in Ridgeland’s football offices, Mariakis drew up plays on a chalkboard and started asking questions. Saban explained what he would do with his defensive front in this or that situation, and – with Vonn Bell sitting nearby and hanging out every word – methodically explained the role of his safeties in secondary coverages.

  “I just sat there thinking to myself, ‘This guy just won a national championship again, and here we are drawing up X’s and O’s together,’” Mariakis said.

  Saban has a mesmerizing effect wherever he goes. When he went to Auburn High School (yes, located within a few miles of Auburn University), it was like the Red Sea parted. He was there to see Reuben Foster, the 5-star linebacker.

  All of sudden, it was like you couldn’t find an Auburn fan within 1,000 miles.  Gus Malzhan was probably hiding under a desk.

  “They were freaking out and taking pictures, and I thought they were supposed to be Auburn fans; I did not hear a single ‘War Eagle’ but I heard several ‘Roll Tide’s,’” said Foster, describing the surreal scene to ESPN’s Kipp Adams.

  Saban has lifted three crystal balls over his head in the last four years, while also capturing four out of five mythical national championships in’s team recruiting rankings. Saban is on the brink of hammering down another one this year.

  This year’s Alabama recruiting class is not like last year’s – when it raided Georgia for eight of the state’s top prospects, including the younger brother of one of UGA’s own football players. This year, Alabama only has two commits from Georgia, and is a finalist for a few more – Vonn Bell, Alvin Kamara and Montravius Adams.

  If Saban wanted more, he could get them. He’s like the “Honey Badger” – he just takes what he wants. This year, Saban is getting simply getting 5-stars from other states.

  And somewhere, college coaches recruiting against Saban are crying.







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