Nick Saban might be the most recognizable face in college football. The renowned Alabama coach is hard to miss, even on another continent. Saban thought he may be able to blend in with the crowd during a recent trip to Italy, but eagle-eyed fans were quick to spot him. He recently detailed multiple interactions with the Alabama faithful during his trip overseas.
"It's something to say about the brand that we have, an iconic brand, the Crimson Tide," Saban said ahead of a charity golf tournament, according to BamaOnLine.com. "You get 'Roll Tide' in Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast. It was everywhere I went. It says something about the brand. I don't know what it says about me."
Alabama graduate Caty O'Connor was one of the fans who spotted and approached Saban in Italy, and she told AL.com she was vacationing in Florence with her boyfriend when they caught a glimpse of the future Hall of Fame coach.
"I sprint across the street," O'Connor said. "[I] sprint past my boyfriend and run right up to [Saban] and I immediately scream 'Roll Tide!'"
"I startled the hell out of him," she continued. "He's like 'What's going on?'"
Saban added that not all of his interactions were amicable. It turns out some fans carry animosity from longstanding rivalries with them, even across the Atlantic Ocean.
"I got a few jilts from other SEC fans," Saban said. "They didn't post that part."
Saban sightings were trickling in last week on social media. That included longtime sportswriter and author Rick Reilly.
Saban is regarded by many as the greatest coach in college football history, boasting a record seven national championships during his coaching career. Six of those have come at Alabama after he won his first at LSU during the 2003 season. Saban is 280-69-1 all-time.
A perennial favorite under Saban's watch, the Crimson Tide are looking for a bounce back after falling short of their ultimate goals last season. Alabama missed out on out on both the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff with an 11-2 record. It was just the second time Saban and Alabama missed the CFP since its implementation in 2014.