What Does Nick Saban Remember from his First Big Win at LSU? The Cops

Christopher Walsh

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — On Saturday, Nick Saban will face Tennessee again, the team that was on the opposing sideline when he notched his first big win at LSU.

Most Alabama fans don't know the story. 

It was 2000 and Tennessee was coming to Tiger Stadium ranked No. 11.

Saban was in his first year and LSU was 2-2, coming off back-to-back losses to No. 24 Auburn and UAB — yes, UAB.

With ranked opponents looming for three of the next four games, there was more than some serious grumbling going on in Baton Rouge about the man LSU had just paid $1.5 million (which was considered a huge amount at the time) to lure away from Michigan State.

Wide receiver Josh Reed had seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns in what many consider his breakout game.  Running back LaBrandon Toefield's 74-yard run keyed his 120-yard performance. 

But Rohan Davey to Robert Royal was the difference in overtime, with Tennessee unable to answer when trying to score into the north end zone that was surrounded by the LSU student section. 

The fans subsequently rushed the field following the 38-31 victory. 

“You know what, the only thing I remember about that game, and I remember that we won in overtime, I remember when we won, I remember it was a really, really important game," Saban said Wednesday evening. "But you’re talking about, what is it, 18 or 19 years ago? 

"I remember having two Louisiana State patrolmen that were by me, which is pretty much a thing in the Southeastern Conference and in the South. And in the Big Ten, we never had that. The coach never had it at Ohio State, I never had it at Michigan State, the head coach never had it when I was the defensive coordinator. So, I was like why do I need these guys?

"When we won that game and the fans stormed the field, I was so thankful and grateful that I had those guys and I’ve never lost appreciation for them ever since. So, that’s my No. 1 memory from that game. But it was a huge game, no doubt. Tennessee had a really good team.”

Tennessee got revenge the following year, winning 26-18 in Knoxville in 2001, but has lost every meeting since for a 13-game losing streak against the coach including all 12 since he took over at Alabama in 2007.

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