Saban Remembers Days As West Virginia Fan

Nick Saban’s West Virginia background is well known. He grew up in Fairmont, W. Va., where he was indoctrinated into sports by his father, Big Nick, who ran the Pop Warner program. After playing football and graduating from Kent State in Ohio, he began coaching at his alma mater. In 1978 and 1979 he was an assistant under Bobby Bowden at the University of West Virginia.

This week Alabama will open the season against Nick Saban’s old homestate university when the Crimson Tide and West Virginia meet in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Saturday afternoon.

On Monday, Saban was asked about all Bama players being available for the first game, and he said all of the players are. “That doesn’t mean they are all going to go, just because they’re available to go,” he said.

He added, “I think I’m going to go for sure. Terry’s going for sure.” His wife, Terry, is also a West Virginia native.

“We’ve got lots of people coming from West Virginia,” Saban said. “A lot of people.”

Saban also recounted growing up a West Virginia fan.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “That was the biggest thing going when I was a kid. To go to Mountaineer Field and watch West Virginia play, that was like the highlight of my year. I still have great memories of home and great memories of the people and relationships that I have at home.

“I've always kind of been a Mountaineer fan. I remember as a kid sitting in the old Mountaineer Fieldhouse. I used to sit in the upper deck with my feet hanging over the deck looking in between the rails watching Jerry West play. I remember that. I was probably only 7-8-9 years old or something, but I remember that.

“I remember listening to my little brown transistor radio when Darrall Imhoff (two-time California All-America) hit a jump shot [to beat West and West Virginia in the NCAA finals in 1959].

“You don't forget stuff like that.”

Things have changed, though.

“ut now I'm Alabama's coach,” Saban said. “I'm an Alabama fan. We don't really have to be concerned about any of that. We want to do what's best for our team and the relationships that we have here.

“But we also respect their traditions and the relationships that we've developed through the years in West Virginia.”

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