NEW ORLEANS — Alabama coach Nick Saban’s relationship with the Stoops family goes way back to his days as an Ohio State and Michigan State assistant coach in the 1980s.
Saban recruited the Youngstown, Ohio, area, and became close friends with Stoops’ father, Ron, and his Uncle Bob, also an area high-school coach at the time.
I wrote about the relationship between the two families late last month. You can read that story here.
During Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl news conference, Saban talked more about his friendship with the Stoops family.
“Ron was just a fantastic person and a really good coach and very well respected by all the players that he coached,” Saban said. “And (Uncle) Bob was a good friend. And he’s a little different than Ron in that he was a little bit of a free spirit.
“So I remember that when I would be recruiting there, most of the time when the schools close you have to wait until people get home from work before you can go do home visits at night.
“I used to meet Bob at the boiler room at South High School and used to play cards, gin rummy, until I could go on a home visit. That was the kind of relationship I’ve had with them.”