Saban cherishes W.Va. roots

MORGANTOWN – Just when you thought the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game between Alabama and West Virgina couldn’t possibly have any more story lines, Clint Trickett drops a bombshell.

Turns out the West Virginia quarterback had a childhood romance with Alabama coach Nick Saban’s daughter, Kristen.

She was Trickett’s first kiss.

”For clarification, we were like six years old,” Trickett noted. ”Just so everyone knows that.”

Perhaps her dad, who has won three of the last five BCS National Titles, will keep that in mind when he’s dialing up blitzes to put Trickett on the Georgia Dome turf.

Then again, probably not.

Like Trickett, however, Saban spent his days growing up on Mountaineer football.

The 62-year-old Saban, who has a 74-15 record at Alabama, grew up about a half hour south of Morgantown in the small town of Monongah.

He still remembers going to old Mountaineer Field to watch WVU play.

”Oh yeah, that was the biggest thing when I was a kid, man,” Saban said. ”That was the highlight of my year.”

Saban can also recall listening to his transistor radio during the 1959 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game when Cal’s Darrall Imhoff’s last second jumper topped a Jerry West-led Mountaineers squad.

”I’ve always kinda been a Mountaineer fan,” he said. ”I remember as a kid, sitting in the old Mountaineer Fieldhouse. I used to sit in the upper deck with my feet hanging over the deck looking between the rails watching Jerry West play.

”You don’t forget stuff like that.”

Saban, along with future Mountaineer Kerry Marbury, led the Monongah Lions to back-to-back state championships in football from 1968-69.

You can YouTube clips of Saban playing quarterback at Monongah, which consolidated with Barrackville and Fairview to make North Marion.

After graduation, Saban continued his football career at Kent State and was apart of the school’s only MAC Championship team along with Pro Football Hall of Famer Jack Lambert and current Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel.

Saban married Terry Constable, a Fairmont native, in 1971.

”I still have great memories of home,” Saban said. ”I have great memories of the people and relationships I have at home.”

Saturday’s game will be the first time Saban will play against his home-state team during his coaching career. He was an assistant for the Mountaineers under Bobby Bowden from 1978-79.

”Lots of people from West Virginia are coming (to Saturday’s game),” Saban said. ”Lots of people.”

Saban, entering his eighth year with the Crimson Tide, was quick to remind the Alabama fan base his connection with WVU won’t have any impact on the outcome of the game.

”Now, I’m Alabama’s coach. I’m an Alabama fan,” he said. ”We don’t really have to be concerned about anything like that. We have to do what’s best for our team and our relationships here.”

Good news for Tide fans. Bad news for Trickett.