Nick Saban nearly screwed up LSU football’s 2003 national championship

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

LSU football won their first of three championships this century in 2003.

Nick Saban has won six national championships in his career and the first one came as LSU football’s head coach in 2003.

Saban, who was in his fourth year at LSU, led the Tigers to a 13-1 record in 2003. LSU won the title by beating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

But the magical championship season almost didn’t happen — at least not the way we remember it happening. In fact, if Saban had got his way in 2000, there’s no telling how the rest of his tenure in Baton Rouge would’ve played out.

During Saban’s first year at LSU, he attempted to get Matt Mauck, then a freshman, to move from quarterback to safety.

Mauck told The Athletic last year that Saban asked him to make the position change in 2000. But Mauck resisted and asked for another week of practice time at quarterback. As fate would have it, Craig Nall broke his thumb in practice and suddenly Mauck was third on the depth chart.

A few years later, Mauck was the quarterback for the 2003 national championship team.

Do the Tigers win without Mauck under center?

There’s truly no way to know. But it’s pretty wild that Saban, undoubtedly one of the best football coaches of all time, almost made a disastrous decision to move a future championship winning quarterback to safety.

Nearly 20 years later, Mauck and Saban essentially have no relationship. Mauck recently told WAFB’s Jacques Doucet that he doesn’t see himself having beers with Saban anytime soon, noting that the last time he talked to his former head coach was when Saban was at Alabama and requested a favor.

It should be pointed out, that Mauck has made it clear he had a lot of respect for Saban as a head coach. In the interview with The Athletic, Mauck said he doesn’t think the Tigers win a championship without Saban.

“I don’t think we would have ever done it without Nick Saban. I think he was the perfect guy who kind of righted the ship”, said Mauck.

Oddly enough, Mauck originally signed with Saban at Michigan State to play football. But Mauck was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and played minor league baseball for three years before landing in Baton Rouge.

Next. Myles Brennan is getting massively overlooked. dark

Whatever Saban said on the recruiting trail to Mauck was clearly well received. But the relationship between the two never grew from there.