If there was any question that Alabama coach Nick Saban’s fame had officially transcended that of any top football coach, it was confirmed during a recent visit to a Georgia high school, where onlooking students weapt tears of joy/astonishment at seeing Saban in their halls.
Saban was not accompanied by Justin Bieber, Beyonce or Rihanna. He was there by himself, in Georgia, to visit with top safety prospect Vonn Bell, a senior at Ridgeland (Ga.) High. According to Ridgeland football coach Mark Mariakis, it didn’t take long for the school to start buzzing as soon as Saban arrived on campus.
“It was a state of disbelief that Coach Saban was in our school,” Mariakis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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.”
It’s worth noting that all of this celebrity gawking occurred at a school in Georgia, a state that hosts of one of the chief rivals of Saban’s Crimson Tide. You could imagine what it’s like when Saban, who has won three of the past four college football national titles, recruits in his own state.
In fact, you don’t need to imagine what it’s like because Reuben Foster, the former Alabama commit who attends Auburn (Ala.) High and switched his commitment to Auburn (before decommitting from the Tigers, too) has described what it’s like when Saban visits there, too.
“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,’” Foster told ESPN.
Roll Tide in the shadow of Toomer’s Corner. If ever there was a sure sign that Saban had transcended all normal levels of football fame, there it is.