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Nick Saban Honors Joe Tiller

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The best coach in college football knows what’s up.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban is unquestionably the best current coach in college football. The massive support, recruiting base, and sheer talent of Alabama helps, but he is an impressive 210-61-1 in his head coaching career with an impressive five National Championships, all of which have come in the last 15 years.

One man owned him though, and that man was Joe Tiller.

Early in Saban’s career when he was at Michigan State he faced off against Tiller three times in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Tiller’s Purdue team won all three games, making Saban 1-3-1 against Purdue overall (Michigan State tied Purdue 35-35 in 1995 for the final tie in school history and beat Purdue 52-14 in 1996, both under Jim Colletto). As it stands, Purdue is the only school to beat Saban three straight times, and it is technically a streak that is still active since Alabama is ducking us.

They were memorable games too. In 1997 Purdue trailed 21-10 with two minutes left when Leo Perez blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown by Rosevelt Colvin. Purdue then recovered the onside kick, went down and scored again, and survived a missed FG to win 22-21.

The 1998 game in East Lansing was just as crazy. Purdue trailed 24-13 with less than six minutes left, but some guy named Drew Brees threw TD passes to Randall Lane and Isaac Jones to win 25-24.

In 1999 Michigan State came to Ross-Ade stadium undefeated and ranked 5th in the country. Brees and Chris Daniels combined for an NCAA record 21 receptions and 301 yards (and 3 TDs) as Purdue sent them back to East Lansing with a 52-28 whupping. Brees even gifted them two pick-sixes in that game.

Knowing who owned him, Saban had some very nice things to say about coach Tiller this week:

I joke about Purdue owning him, but having coach Saban say some very complimentary things about coach Tiller 20 years after some frustrating losses is impressive. this is a man who has just 61 losses in 22 years of coaching major college football. he’s won five national titles.

He never beat coach Tiller though, and it was great to see Saban give him some major credit this week.