Nick Saban somehow lived up to his own impossible standard leaving Alabama still at the top of his game

In a guarded moment a few years ago, Nick Saban revealed one of his biggest fears.

Can you imagine, he said, if one of his Alabama teams ever went 8-4? For virtually any other coach, that’s not terrible. For Saban, it’s acceptable.

That’s not the level he¬†established at Alabama. That’s Gator Bowl-level stuff.

While that prospect may have scared Saban, it also motivated him — so much that he got out before anyone could stamp him with any type of expiration date. He got out in time to preserve his legacy as the greatest college coach of all time.

Not just college football. All of team sports. Certainly now. Maybe forever.

There will be few doubts after Saban, 72, stepped down Wednesday following his 17th season at Alabama. He leaves with 292 wins, the 15th most all time, four Heisman Trophy winners and 49 players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. His achievements are comparable to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

Saban’s seven national championships, six at Alabama (matching Paul “Bear” Bryant) and one at LSU, is a record unlikely to ever be broken. It might as well be written in stone, especially in an era where it has never been more difficult to win a national championship.

Saban cornered the market on titles, but he did it during the most competitive period in college football history. He’s responsible for much of that. Recruiting has never been more intense. Still, Saban and Alabama largely dominated with by far and away the most top-ranked classes (10) since 2010. Though the stretch was started by Florida, the SEC has won 13 national titles across the last 18 seasons; Alabama’s six account for nearly half of that accomplishment.

The former Kent State defensive back from Fairmont, West Virginia, has at the center…

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