Croatian Nick Saban
Coach of the Year – Led LSU to NCAA Football Championship
Nick Saban was selected The Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year on Thursday, December 11, 2003. Saban completed a banner year by coaching LSU (Louisiana State University) Tigers to 13-1 record and a Sugar Bowl win 21-14 over Oklahoma Sooners to win a College Football BCS “Bowl Championship Series “ finale in New Orleans on Sunday, January 4th 2004. And it was a rewarding win for Saban. He makes $1.5 million, but a clause in his contract said that if he won this game, he was guaranteed $1 more than the highest-paid college coach — Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, at $2.3 million.
Saban grew up in Monongah, West Virginia and was All-State in football, basketball and baseball graduating in 1969 from Monongah High School, Marion County, West Virginia. He attended Kent State on a football scholarship. Saban’s father Nick owned a Gulf gas station.
Grandfather Stanko (changed to Stanley) Saban born in 1895 emigrated from Gospic, Lika, Croatia in 1908 when he was only 13 with his younger brother Steve and father (great-grandfather of football coach). Brother Steve eventually settled in Portland, Oregon where he had 10 children. Great-grandfather moved back to Croatia.
Stanko married Croatian American Anna Mihalic and they had 4 children (including Nick Sr.). He worked at Carolina Coalmine in Carolina, West Virginia. Stanko visited Croatia once in 1955 and he died at the age of 76 in 1971.
Vedran Joseph Nazor, Croatian Chronicle, 2005
LSU coach Nick Saban holds the BCS title trophy after the Tigers beat Oklahoma 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl.