Saban Has Been Bowling In Orlando

Alabama Coach Nick Saban will be coaching in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando for the second time Saturday. He was head coach in the game at the end of the 2004 season, his final season at LSU.

Alabama will play Michigan State at 1 p.m. EST (noon central time) Saturday in the Capital One Bowl. ESPN will televise the game.

Before it was the Capital One Bowl, it was the Citrus Bowl, and Nick Saban's final Michigan State team played in that bowl at the end of the 1999 season, but Saban had already departed for LSU.

And before it was the Citrus, it was the Tangerine Bowl.

Saban never coached in the Tangerine, but 38 years ago today -- December 29, 1972, Saban played his final game for Kent State in Orlando's bowl against the Tampa Spartans.

Saban was asked about the game following Bama's practice Wednesday.

"Has it been that long," he said. "I forgot about that. I remember this: we got beat."

Saban's teammates included Gary Pinkel, who is now head coach at Missouri, and legendary linebacker Jack Lambert, who went on to NFL fame with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The coach at Kent State was Don James, who is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

It was Kent State's only Mid-American Conference championship team.

Tampa, which no longer has a football team, was led by defensive lineman John Matuszak, who would be the number one NFL draft choice in 1973, and quarterback/wide receiver Freddie Solomon. Tampa was coached by Earle Bruce.

Saban said, "We had a good team and we actually fumbled two punts, gave them good field position."

Tampa jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead.  Kent State rallied to pull within three before falling 21-18.  Three missed conversations attempts--two kick tries and a two-point attempt--proved to be the difference. 

Saban said, "Don James did a great job of turning the program around and was a great inspiration for wanting to stay in this profession.

"I remember my mom and dad carried me down to the game. That's about what I remember from it.

"You always remember the outcome."

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