By Nick Shepkowski–
(CBS) Saban, Meyer, Fisher, Saban, Saban, Chizik, Saban, Meyer, Miles, Meyer, Brown, Carroll and Saban.
Those are the head coaches to win the last 13 college football national championships. See a recurring theme on that list?
Alabama’s Nick Saban is as good of coach as college football has ever seen. His five national titles are fewer than only the six that Bear Bryant won during his run with the Crimson Tide, but Saban’s done his work in a much different time than Bryant.
The only other name you see on that list more than once is Urban Meyer, who has won three titles himself during his runs at Florida and now Ohio State.
Both are in charge of football factories and have combined to win eight of the last 13 national titles.
Some of you can probably tell where I’m going. For the others, I’ll draw a roadmap.
Remember the most recent Lakers run in which they played in the NBA Finals three years, from 2008 to 2010? It coincided with LeBron James emerging as the best player in basketball, just lacking much help around him.
As a result, Kobe Bryant and James, the two biggest stars in the game at the time, never met in the NBA Finals. To this day, basketball fans feel somewhat robbed.
Unless you grew up a fan of Ohio State or Florida, chances are you don’t think too highly of Meyer. The same goes for Saban – unless you’re a longtime Alabama fan, you’re not going to find many people that root for him on a random fall Saturday.
But college football lacks many coaches you’d root for if they didn’t coach your favorite team. It just so happens that Saban is perhaps the best ever to do it, and Meyer isn’t all that far behind.
Saban and Meyer come with as much dislike as just about anyone who has coached college football in recent memory. Of course, it’s their football factories and insane amount of wins that cause more of that dislike than anything else.
So, here’s the deal: I’m going to need a Saban-led Alabama team meeting the Meyer-led Ohio State Buckeyes in the national championship, and I’m going to need it soon.
I know they’ve been close to meeting on the biggest stage before, with a meeting in the 2014 national semifinals and a pair of epic matchups in the conference title game in their SEC days, but a winner-take-all national championship between these two needs to happen.
As a result of coaching Tim Tebow, Meyer was viewed by many at Florida as a guy who “did things the right way” and was “a great life coach” – despite having quite the rap-sheet of off-the-field issues during his time.
Meanwhile, Saban has a long history of questionable exits and doesn’t seem to leave many friends behind whenever he exits a job.
The fan bases for these two teams — and many of their rivals as well — would treat the build-up for the game like a week-and-a-half version of The Haters Ball.
Over the past few decades, we’ve seen Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne meet in a title game. In the 1980s, we saw Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer in an Orange Bowl showdown. Before that, it was Bryant’s Bama and Ara Parseghian’s disliked Notre Dame Fighting Irish who met for championships.
College football is full of villains just like any good movie. Now imagine Darth Vader somehow having a showdown with The Joker. It’d be two villains who are legendarily great at what they do, and the world wouldn’t know who or what to root for.
But it sure as hell would want to watch.