Coaches Spotlight: Nick Saban's reputation got Alabama into the playoffs

Welcome to the Amway Coach of the Week Fan Poll spotlight. Every week, For the Win will recognize three coaches of teams in the latest Top 25 for their performance over the weekend. We’ll shout out the coaches who deserve praise and point out those who do not. We start this week in Athens…

Kirby Smart is ahead of schedule at Georgia

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While Georgia’s former coach Mark Richt was named the national coach of the year, fans in Athens have to be happy with the school’s decision to replace him with Kirby Smart. In only his second season, he led the Bulldogs to an SEC title, which vaulted them up to No. 3 in this week’s Amway Coaches poll and landed them a playoff berth. Smart was able to perfectly replicate the defenses he ran in Alabama under Nick Saban. That’s easier said than done. Smart may not win any coaching awards for his efforts in 2017, but no coach has done a better job this season.

Lincoln Riley shows how to follow a legend

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Speaking of replacing a legendary coach, Lincoln Riley had no problem taking over for Bob Stoops after his sudden retirement in the offseason. Sure, Riley’s job was made easier by Baker Mayfield, the front-runner for the Heisman, but the first-year coach deserves credit for turning a player who couldn’t win a job at Texas Tech into a legitimate NFL prospect. His defensive coaching staff also deserves a ton of credit. After a shaky start to the season, the Sooners D is playing well heading into the College Football Playoff. It shut out a good TCU offense in the second half of the Big XII title game.

Nick Saban is the reason Alabama is in the playoffs

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Want to know why Alabama made it into the College Football Playoff over Ohio State? Look no further than Nick Saban. He is still the best coach in the country, and even if this Tide team is flawed, it will be hard to bet against him winning another national championship. With a month to prepare, we know Saban will have his team ready to give No. 1 Clemson all it can handle in the semis. There isn’t a surer bet than Saban’s team showing up for a big game. Can the same thing be said for Urban Meyer and Ohio State?

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