Lou Saban: Wikis


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Lou Saban
Date of birth October 13, 1921(1921-10-13)
Place of birth Brookfield, Illinois
Date of death March 29, 2009 (aged 87)
Position(s) Head Coach
College Indiana University
Honors American Football League
Champion, 1964 and 1965
Career record 95-99-7
1965 AFL Championship
1964 AFL Championship
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Coaching stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
1946–1949 AAFC Cleveland Browns
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
Northwestern, NCAA
Western Illinois, NCAA
Boston Patriots, AFL
Buffalo Bills, AFL
Maryland, NCAA
Denver Broncos, AFL
Denver Broncos, NFL
Buffalo Bills, NFL
Miami, NCAA
Army, NCAA

Louis Henry Saban (October 13, 1921 – March 29, 2009) was an American football player and coach. Saban played for Indiana University in college and as a pro for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference. Saban was the head coach of the Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos of the American Football League (later, American Football Conference). At his death, Lou Saban was the last survivor of the eight coaches of the Original Eight American Football League franchises, the others being Eddie Erdelatz, Frank Filchock, Buster Ramsey, Lou Rymkus, Sammy Baugh, and Hall of Fame coaches Hank Stram and Sid Gillman. Saban was also the head coach of a number of colleges, including Northwestern, Maryland, Miami, and Army.




Playing years

Saban played college football at Indiana University where he was named All-Big Ten as a quarterback one year and All-Big Ten as a fullback in another. A 10th round selection in the 1944 NFL Draft, he began his pro career with the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). He was the team captain as the Browns dominated the AAFC in all four years of the league's existence. Saban was twice voted to the league's All-Star team as a linebacker.

College coaching

He went on to be the head coach at Case Institute, where he compiled a 10-14-1 record from 1950-1952. He then was an assistant coach at the University of Washington, before becoming an assistant coach at Northwestern University in 1954. In 1955, Saban was named as the head coach at Northwestern. Two years later, he moved on to Western Illinois University, where he would remain as head coach until he entered the professional football ranks to guide the Boston Patriots of the newly formed American Football League (AFL). In his last season at Western Illinois, his 1959 team had an undefeated 9-0 record. [1]

Professional Football coaching

In the early 1960s the Buffalo Bills enjoyed an era of glory. The driving force behind it was Lou Saban, whose style of coaching won him the respect, love, and loyalty of his players. "Trader Lou" came to the Buffalo Bills as head coach in 1962, from the Patriots. He set to work building the Bills into a formidable defensive team, with a strong offense as well. His record at Buffalo during the AFL years was 36-17-3, with winning seasons in each of his four years.

In 1964 and 1965, the Bills went 12-2 and 10-3-1, en route to consecutive AFL championships. Saban was the only man ever to accomplish that feat, and the only one to coach his team into the post-season three straight years (1963-1965). His volatile style nevertheless endeared him to his players. He is shown in a famous clip bemoning to an assistant coach: "They're killin' me out there, Whitey, they're killin' me!" He once suspended Cookie Gilchrist for taking himself out of a game in which Gilchrist claimed the Bills were "passing too much", but Cookie's teammates pleaded with Saban until he reinstated the big fullback. In the 1965 AFL championship game against the San Diego Chargers, when offensive linemen Billy Shaw and Dave Behrman were injured, Saban inserted veteran Ernie Warlick opposite rookie Paul Costa in a double tight end formation whch helped the Bills win the game.

Saban was named Coach of the Year twice, but one week after winning his second title, he quit to become head coach at the University of Maryland, and then the Denver Broncos. He returned to the Buffalo Bills (by then in the NFL) from 1972 through 1976, and was credited with coaching Bills running back O.J. Simpson to his full potential.[2]

Back to college

Saban served as head coach at the University of Miami from 1977 to 1978, and is credited with helping lay the foundation for the Hurricanes' future success, in particular recruiting quarterback Jim Kelly to the university. However, despite a winning record in 1978, Saban departed Miami amid controversy. That April, three freshmen Miami players taunted and then attacked a twenty-two-year-old Jewish man wearing a yarmulke who was walking to religious services on campus. They threw the man, who worked at a campus gathering place for UM's Jewish community, into Lake Osceola, an on campus lake at the center of campus. When Saban returned to campus a few days later, he was unaware the man was Jewish and reportedly said "Getting thrown in the lake? Sounds like fun to me." Miami's Jewish community complained, and despite numerous apologies, Saban could not stem the protests and Saban offered to resign mid-season. At the request of Athletic Director John Green, Saban remained through the end of the season, and he left to coach at Army. [3]

After coaching at Army, Saban worked for his former assistant coach, George Steinbrenner as President of the New York Yankees in 1981-1982.[4]

Saban spent the 1983 and 1984 seasons as the head coach at the University of Central Florida (UCF) which was a Division II school at the time. He took over a team which had gone 0-10 in 1982 and led the Golden Knights to a 5-6 record in 1983. He was replaced by his assistant, Jerry Anderson, midway trhough the 1984 season with UCF's record standing at 1-6.

Saban retired in 1985 in Hendersonville, North Carolina.[4] However, he came out of retirement to coach high school football and spent the 1989 season as head coach of the Georgetown High School Bulldogs in Georgetown, South Carolina. Though only winning one game, he was credited with ending a 21 game losing streak, improving the overall operations of the athletic staff and gaining attention for his players, several of whom ended up with college scholarships. In 1990, Saban coached four games for the Middle Georgia Heat Wave, a semipro team in Macon, Ga., before leaving the job in a manner that the team said was "not a firing" and Saban said was "not a resignation." He then spent a year as head coach at Nebraska's Peru State College in 1991, compiling a 7-4 record. In 1994, Saban coached the expansion Milwaukee Mustangs of the Arena Football League but was fired after only four games. After that, he helped to start the Alfred State College football program, though he never coached a game there. Saban then served as the first head coach at SUNY Canton from 1995 until retiring in 2000. His record at this two-year college was 34-16. He retired to coastal South Carolina, but shortly thereafter returned to coaching in 2001-2002 as head coach at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, North Carolina, compiling a 2-13 record. He is a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.


Including his stops at both two and four year schools, Coach Saban's overall collegiate coaching record was 94–99–4. Including the playoffs, his Professional Football record stands at 97–101–7. Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama may be his cousin, but the coaches' respective immediate families are not sure whether or not they are related.[5]

Marty Schottenheimer, who played for Saban in 1965-1968 with the AFL's Bills, was greatly influenced by Saban's coaching philosophy. Schottenheimer and the coaches influenced by him are considered to be in Lou Saban's coaching tree. They include:

Professional football coaching tree

Numbers indicate Super Bowls won by Saban's "descendants", a total of three.

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Sam Weir
University of Central Florida Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Jerry Anderson
Preceded by
Carl Selmer
University of Miami Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Howard Schnellenberger
Preceded by
Harvey Johnson
Buffalo Bills Head Coach
Succeeded by
Jim Ringo
Preceded by
Denver Broncos General Manager
Succeeded by
John Ralston
Preceded by
Ray Malavasi
Denver Broncos Head Coach
Succeeded by
Jerry Smith
Preceded by
Tom Nugent
University of Maryland Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Bob Ward
Preceded by
Buster Ramsey
Buffalo Bills Head Coach
Succeeded by
Joe Collier
Preceded by
First coach
Boston Patriots Head Coach
Succeeded by
Mike Holovak
Preceded by
Bob Voigts
Northwestern University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Ara Parseghian
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Sid Gillman
AFL Championship winning Head Coach
1964, 1965
Succeeded by
Hank Stram


In his later years, Saban had been experiencing heart problems and recently experienced a fall in his home that required hospitalization. He died at his home in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at 4 am EST on March 29, 2009.[6]

See also


External links


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