Alabama coach Nick Saban has gone from the most powerful man in college football to one of the most powerful people in the world.
Fortune Magazine ranked Saban No. 11 on its Top 50 list of the World’s Greatest Leaders. He is one of three sports figures on the list — Steph Curry and Warriors coach Steve Kerr split No. 15 — and is listed among world leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, politicians and altruistic human beings.
Saban narrowly missed cracking the top 10, but that would have meant supplanting Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, who is the only female leader among the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states.
During the three-year existence of Fortune’s Top 50 list, Saban is the first football coach to appear. LeBron James ranked No. 31 last year and in 2014, Mike Krzyzewski, Gregg Popovich, Dawn Staley shared the No. 20 ranking.
During a short writeup, Fortune explained why it thought Saban was worthy of the ranking:
The dynasty was over. That was the consensus of the pundits after Alabama’s 43–37 loss to Ole Miss in its third game of the season last September. The famed “process” that Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, 64, had used to win three national titles in football at Bama—while boosting graduation rates—and one at LSU had run its course, and the competition had caught up. Saban challenged his team: “How are you going to respond?” When Alabama defeated Clemson 45–40 for another title on Jan. 11, 2016, he had his answer, and the dynasty—and Saban’s legacy as a leader—remained intact.
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