DEVILLE: Behind a good man, there's a great woman

NEW ORLEANS - When Nick Saban arrived on campus in December of 1999, many thought he would be the coach who could pull LSU out of the doldrums and restore the once storied program to its rightful place among the college football elite. <br><br> In four years, mission accomplished.

In his fourth season, Saban led the LSU Tigers to their second SEC title and the school' first national title in almost half a century. The people of Louisiana have endeared Saban and if possible, you could bet if the former West Virginian ran for governor, he'd be a shoe in.


But behind every good man, is a woman. Behind Saban, is "momma," as the LSU head coach calls her.


Terry Constable met Nick Saban in school back in Fairmont, West Virginia and the two were high school sweethearts. After Saban finished his eligibility at Kent State, he and terry were married. While she finished her degree at Kent State, Saban worked as a graduate assistant coach under coach Don James, his mentor.


Once the Sabans left Kent State and he headed into the world of coaching football, the two were a team. For 32 years, Terry Saban has been at her husbands' side. Through good years and bad she has followed her husband from city to city, one college program to the next, franchise to franchise.


Sunday night, it was obvious no one in the media room in the Louisiana Superdome was more proud of Nick Saban than she was. Not the thousands of Tiger fans outside dancing in the streets, not even the players themselves down the hall in the locker room.


Terry Saban sat on the back row watching as husband Nick fielded questions from the media. A member of the popular Bengal Belles, she sat listening closely while dressed in a trademark Tiger-striped jacket. She admitted the fact her husband had just LSU to a victory in the national game had yet to fully take affect.


"(LSU chancellor Mark Emmert's wife) DeLaine (Emmert) and I were sitting here and we were saying that it hasn't really sunk in yet," she said. "I said maybe it is because Nick keeps telling us that it is just another game and maybe we're starting to believe it."


Saban is serious when preparing for a game and moments before he arrived at the Superdome for Sunday's championship game, he spent the final moments of private preparation with his confidant, his partner…. his wife.


"I don't know if he listens to me but we were sitting on the bed in the hotel room and it was time for him to go and I was departing and I said, ‘Look, we have a lot of talent,'" she said. "We have a great team. I just want to see you go at them and use all the talent that we have. Don't be conservative. Go for it. What do we have to lose?'"


And they did just that.


However, with Saban's victory in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, some say this would be a perfect opportunity for the former NFL coordinator to make the jump to many feel is his true love, a head coaching position in the National Football League.


Terry Saban told the Times-Picayune last week the Sabans have no intention of leaving town just yet.


"I'm not saying never, but we're not going anywhere this year," Terry Saban told the Times-Picayune. "The administration has shown again that they are committed to him. But the biggest reason, besides the whole family thing, is that this staff has worked so hard to recruit for four years, the top recruiting class year after year, that you look at the bench and the young talented players. And in an exciting conference, I don't want to let anybody else coach these guys. I don't think Nick wants to let anybody else coach these guys."


She said the Sabans actually love Baton Rouge and the people they have met here.


"I'll say this, just about any place we've lived, I say I like it better when we win and we've won a lot so I guess that says it all. I like it a lot."


With two children in high school in Baton Rouge and set to receive a new contract including a $1 million-plus sized raise, what Terry Saban says may be closer to the truth than NFL experts think.

"I think it has to do more with the family's happiness," she said.


Coaches do carry long hours and Terry Saban and children Nicholas and Kristen have seen very little of the man of the house since last August. But she said her husband does try and include the wives and families of his coaches in everything he possibly can.


"He's so wonderful to allow everyone to contribute to what he is doing," she said. "He is really willing to share with the family, with the coaches and with the wives. We had a Christmas party at the house and he spent most of the time at the Christmas party thanking the assistant coaches wives for their sacrifices and all that they do for recruiting."


LSU fans will be happy to know they will more than likely have their head coach back on the sideline next season and possibly the next. While Saban said he is happy for the fans and the celebrations that were beginning to erupt down Poydras Ave. next to the Superdome, he admitted he was a bit worried about next September.


"You know, you don't really want to know what I'm thinking," Saban said. "Because what I'm thinking is how are we going to get this done next year. Because this year's accomplishments are next years expectations."


And Saban said he understands fully expectations can sway emotions, especially among the world of LSU fans. He admitted he has felt both sides of a Tiger fan's passions.


"Well, I've been on both sides of the passion here," Saban said. "My little girl was riding in the back seat after we lost to Ole Miss three years ago and listening to the talk radio shows. She was only 11 then. And she said, "Daddy, are we going to have to move again?" So I've seen it both ways, okay. And we appreciate the support and we love it. And I could never imagine the enthusiasm and the support and the passion that the people of this state has given our football team ever since I've been here really. And I think that's something that really you appreciate."


And as for the Sabans on this night, the most passionate of all in the last half-century of LSU football, are celebrations in store 


"It's going to be nice to go back to the hotel," Terry Saban said. "He's just going to be with our children and we'll probably look at the movie channel and see what old Clint Eastwood movies are on."

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