Whatever the mood, Saban isn’t know for a lot of razzle dazzle. He sticks to what his team does best and executes it to perfection.
That’s why in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game Saban shocked us all by taking a huge risk.
Alabama’s Surprise Onside Kick vs. Clemson
Alabama Crimson Tide kicker Adam Griffith nailed a field goal to tie the game at 24 against the Clemson Tigers with 10:34 left in the fourth quarter.
The score had been close throughout the contest, with no team achieving a lead greater than seven.
Saban knew he needed something to change the game. He took a play out of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton‘s playbook.
Griffith lined up for the kickoff. Everybody was already thinking about how Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson would answer.
The Crimson Tide kicker approached the ball, then pivoted and booted perhaps the most perfect onside kick I’ve ever seen. The ball bounced on a beautiful line to his teammate on the outside.
That gutsy call completely shifted the momentum. Two plays later, Alabama QB Jake Coker hit tight end O.J. Howard on a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Bama wouldn’t relinquish the lead again, claiming the fourth national title of the Saban era with a 45-40 win.
There are two main things I take away from this play:
One, Adam Griffith is a special teams wizard. His foot is one with the ball, and he can direct where it goes at will.
Two, Nick Saban aka Nick “Big Cajones” Saban proved he is willing to roll the dice. Had the plan backfired, Clemson would’ve had great field position.
These are the kind of play calls that win championships and keep dynasties alive.