Over the course of the past decade, there is little argument that Alabama head coach Nick Saban and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have been the best in the business. Between them, the two coaches have a total of 11 outright championship rings to go along with a handful of more conference championships to their names. If a Mount Rushmore of football coaches were to be sculpted today, these two would certainly be the first two faces to go up on the side of the mountain. Yet, for all the championship success these two legendary football coaches have achieved, they have also somehow failed to experience the thrill of a championship victory in the same season even once.
Belichick’s latest Super Bowl victory on Sunday with the New England Patriots topping the Los Angeles Rams continued one of the more fascinating streaks in the football world. Since 2009, no football season has ended with both Belichick and Saban winning a championship in the same year.
Technically speaking, the streak goes back prior to 2009, but most recognize the start of the streak with Saban’s first BCS national championship in his second season with Alabama. Belichick won an AFC East division title with the Patriots that season but took an early exit in the wild card round against the Baltimore Ravens. The following year, Saban and Alabama failed to win the SEC thanks to a magical run by Cam Newton and Auburn that left the Crimson Tide resorting to play in the Capital One Bowl. Meanwhile, AFC East champion New England were upset in the AFC Divisional Round by the New York Jets. Saban struck back with back-to-back BCS national championships in 2011 and 2012. We came close to a Saban-Belichick combo in the 2011 season, but the New York Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl and the Patriots were taken out by the Ravens once again the following season in the AFC Championship Game.
Auburn once again got in the way of a potential national championship run by Alabama in 2013, leading the Crimson Tide to lose in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma at the end of the year. The Patriots once again took a loss in the AFC Championship Game, this time on the road against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The following season, Belichick picked up his first Super Bowl championship since 2004 with a win against the Seattle Seahawks, but Saban and Alabama were taken out of the inaugural College Football Playoff by Ohio State in the first round.
Alabama picked up Saban’s first College Football Playoff national championship in 2015, but the Patriots were once again thwarted by Manning and the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Saban and Alabama lost a rematch with Clemson the following season, but Belichick saw his Patriots come back form a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Last year, it was Saban getting the upper hand in the College Football Playoff championship with an overtime victory over Georgia in the national championship game in Atlanta. A few weeks later, Belichick and the Patriots fell victim to the Philly Special against the Philadelphia Eagles.
which brings us to this most recent season. The 2018 football season ended with Belichick winning yet another Super Bowl mere weeks after Saban suffered one of the worst postseason losses of his career against Clemson in the national championship game. And the streak continues.
For those keeping score in South Carolina, and I know some of you are, Belichick and Dabo Swinney have won a championship in the same season in two of the last three seasons. Could this turn into its own trend?