Alabama's Nick Saban headlines Class of 2013 for state hall of fame

AP Sports WriterMay 17, 2013 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Nick Saban's scowling face now greets fans coming into the state of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and a box of his cherished oatmeal cream pies rests at his feet.

The Alabama football coach known for championships, fierce intensity and his morning treats will headline a class of eight inducted into the Hall Saturday night just six years into his tenure with the Crimson Tide.

Saban, who has led Alabama to three national titles, was flattered, honored and not scowling at all at Friday's luncheon after checking out the life-sized cutout of himself in the entryway.

"When you're in it, and I'm still in it, you're always worried about the next game," he said. "Michael Jordan always says, No matter how many game-winning shots you've made, the only one that matters is the next one. I talked to (Yankees closer) Mariano Rivera and I say, `You've got 600 saves, how do you get motivated to go back out there?' He says, 'The only one that matters is the next out, the next batter, the next pitch.' That's what you're always caught up in.

"But to be honest when something like this happens, it makes you sort of realize what an honor it is. It is very self-fulfilling and flattering to know that people recognize me. It's something that you did that will be there forever, that people will remember and look at forever. And that really means a lot."

The Tide has won the past two national titles, and Saban also won one at LSU in 2003. No other FBS coach has captured a national title at two different schools.

The rest of the class includes football official Ronnie Baynes, Jacksonville State and NFL player Eric Davis, Alabama and Auburn defensive coordinator Bill Oliver, Auburn basketball star and 1992 Olympian Vickie Orr and Alabama A&M track star and Olympic gold medalist Dannette Young Stone.

Auburn football player Forrest Blue Jr. and North Alabama basketball player, coach and athletic director Bill Jones will be inducted posthumously.

Jones is the grandfather of Alabama football players Barrett Jones and Harrison Jones.

Saban joins legendary Tide coach Bear Bryant in a hall of fame that also features baseball greats like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens and boxer Joe Louis. Former Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who passed away on March 30, was inducted last year.

Joining that group, Saban said, "is the real honor of it all."

"When you're growing up as a kid, you always want to be able to do something of significance," he said. "You hope that you can do something that affects people in a positive way and you leave some legacy at what you've done. Things like this make you realize that maybe you've done that, that your work has been recognized and that all the miles you drove in recruiting and all the family sacrifices that everybody had to make and the great partner that you have -- my wife Terry -- and caring and trying to help players and trying to be a good example for them to emulate.

"I think it somehow makes you realize that it's all worthwhile."

Saban's entryway display includes an inches-thick binder containing the Tide's plan for the 2009 Florida International game. It's turned to pages containing the "Base bench Chop" and "N Base Closed Billy FZ" and came courtesy of Saban's administrative assistant, Linda Leoni.

"That was Linda's idea, and it was already here before I found out about it," he said. "The first thing I looked at was, what are we showing in the game plan here? I think most people know those two blitzes, so we're all right."

As for the cream pies, that's a tradition he plans to maintain despite his wife's urging.

"Miss Terry is trying to get me to quit eating those, and I say, 'There's only a few things I really enjoy,'" Saban said. "And two of those early in the morning with my coffee is great. If you haven't tried it, you should."

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