Corso: Alabama ‘best defense in college football’

With three names like Lee Corso, Bobby Bowden, and Nick Saban in the building there was plenty to talk about yesterday in Birmingham. Here’s what I wrote from the coach of the year banquet:

BIRMINGHAM — In a banquet hall nestled deep in the Birmingham suburbs, Nick Saban managed a chuckle. He had been there before.

And at least one important person believes the Alabama football coach will be back again. For the second time in its three-year existence, Saban was honored as the Bobby Bowden national collegiate coach of the year.

“I’m just proud to have someone like him win this darn thing,” said Bowden, whose 377 wins ranks second all time. “I think maybe me and him meet here and we won’t invite y’all.”

Saban, who won his second national title in three years, was joined by cult icon and ESPN personality Lee Corso at the Sunday banquet. The College GameDay commentator and former coach was honored for his lifetime achievements by the Over the Mountain Touchdown Club.

Corso just wanted to talk about the Alabama defense that shut out No. 1 LSU in the Jan. 9 national title game. The hitting “was incomparable,” he said.

“Before the game against LSU, I was comparing the defense from Alabama to 1986 Oklahoma defense, which was considered by many as the best defense in college football,” Corso said. “But after that game, after Nick’s great performance, they went down as the greatest defense in college football.”

Bowden, who honored Auburn’s Gene Chizik with the 2010 award, said the voting for this season’s winner took a late turn. Another candidate pulled in quite a few votes before the season ended, and Saban overtook him after it ended.

The former Florida State coach remembered Saban as a child at football camps back when he coached West Virginia.

Bowden hired Saban as a graduate assistant early in his career before moving on to build his empire in Tallahassee.

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