One of the things that gives Nick Saban a most compelling argument as college football's top coach is his perpetual dissatisfaction with his own success. He's admitted to thinking ahead to the next season as quickly as a day after winning national championships, and like all great coaches, he's driven more by failures than accomplishments.
It's from that place that the Alabama coach, in a rare moment of reflection, suggested his four national championships could have been -- gulp -- eight.
"We haven't finished the season in the last two seasons like we'd like," Saban told ESPN radio host Paul Finebaum. "People talk about you won four national championships. Well, I feel like we've had good enough teams to win eight. So I feel like we failed four times. I feel like I failed four times. Is that too difficult? I don't know. But I just know we had other teams that had the talent, and we weren't able to do it."
Can that be taken seriously? Let's examine.
First, Saban's definitely not referring to any of his LSU teams that fell short. He had five of them there, won one national title, and the other four weren't in the national championship neighborhood. At Alabama, Saban certainly reached the doorstep of a national championship appearance in 2008, when his 12-0 team let a fourth-quarter lead slip away to Florida in the SEC title game. The 2013 and 2014 teams were similarly close to national championship glory, falling short on the famous "Kick Six" play at Auburn in '13, and again last season in falling to Ohio State in a national semifinal.
That's three "almosts."
The fourth? Saban can only be referring to his 2010 Alabama team, which doesn't quite qualify with the other "almosts." That team was vastly talented with 12 first-round NFL draft picks on the roster (Mark Barron, James Carpenter, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, D.J. Fluker, Dont'a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner, C.J. Mosley, Trent Richardson and Chance Warmack). But that team also lost three games and was out of the national championship conversation by early November.