Tale of the tape: Nick Saban vs. Wallace Wade

Christopher Walsh

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —Five years ago I published the book “Nick Saban vs. College Football,” which at the time made the case that the Alabama coach had already done enough to be on the Mount Rushmore of college football coaches.

That was two national championships ago.

It’s almost impossible to compare coaches from different eras, but a major part of the book was to compile every coaching statistic imaginable so readers could see them side-by-side and make up their own minds.

As part of college football’s 150th anniversary we’re going to dust off those charts, update them and post them here, once a week.

With Alabama opening the regular season against Duke it seemed only fitting to begin with the only coach who had the Blue Devils ranked in the Associated Press Poll at some point of every season he was there during the poll era (which began in 1936), Wallace Wade.

Of course, Crimson Tide fans know Wade from winning three national titles at Alabama before he left for Duke.

Nick Saban vs. Wallace Wade

(Statistics through 2018 season)

Category,  Nick Saban; Wallace Wade

Seasons 23; 24

Consensus national titles 6; 3

Top five finishes 9; 2-i

Top 25 finishes 16; 7-i

Overall record 232–63–1*; 171-49-10

Percentage 78.5; 76.5

Losing seasons 0; 1

Bowl/CFP record 14-10; 2-2-1-i

Percentage 58.3; 50.0

Conference titles 9; 10

Conference record 138-42-1; 113-28-5

Consensus All-Americans 41; 3

First-round draft picks 34; 2-i

Record against ranked teams 82-40; 8-16-i

Percentage 67.2; 33.3

Record against top 10 teams 42-21; 4-11-i

Percentage 66.7; 26.7


National title seasons:   One every 3.8 seasons; 8.0

Consensus All-Americans (through 2018):  1.78 every season; .13

First-round draft picks (through 2019 draft):  1.48 every season; NA

Average wins vs. ranked teams:  3.57 each season; NA

Wins over top-10 teams per year:  1.82 every season; NA

i-The first Associated Press poll and NFL Draft were conducted in 1936. Wade was at Duke from 1931 until 1950 minus the four years he served in World War II.

This chart originally appeared in the book, “Nick Saban vs. College Football,” Triumph Books, 2014. It has been updated for our purposes.


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