"We go back on occasion,'' he said. "Terry still has quite a bit of family there. I have some family there - my sister, some aunts. Terry has some sisters there. We went back a lot more when our parents were there. My mom lives in Myrtle Beach now.
"We always look forward to going back -- there's no place like home. We absolutely love where we grew up. I've said many times I actually wish that I could have done all of the things that I did in this profession [and] it would have been great to just be able to live right where I grew up and have all of those experiences and do all those things.''
There is a touch of curiosity in the fact that Notre Dame is standing in the way of Saban's fourth national title.
Saban, and much of his family, grew up Catholics and the Fighting Irish football team tends to have a universal appeal in Catholic communities around the country.
"Being a Catholic kid growing up, I always watched Notre Dame,'' Saban said, "and everybody in my family was interested in what Notre Dame did. I don't think it's my faith necessarily, but I think having faith is something that helps us all sort of keep our moral compass in the right direction. I think it reinforces a lot of things about being good, serving other people, trying to do the right things.
"So regardless of what your faith is, I think that would be of significance to who you are, and I think that is of significance to who I am and who I try to be, and why we do some of the things that we do in terms of influencing our players to do the right things -- to serve other people, to be compassionate and to be all they can be. I think those are things that we try to emphasize with our players we try to set an example for in terms of how we go about what we do.''
What lies beyond this season for Saban is anyone's guess right now.
There has been some speculation that he could be headed back to the NFL, even though his departure from the Dolphins in 2007 after just two seasons as head coach was a bit messy.
Know, however, that Saban did produce a modicum of success in his earlier stops around pro football.
In 2005, he improved the Dolphins from 4-12 the year before to 9-7, the second-highest victory turnaround for the Dolphins franchise in a non-strike season and the third-biggest turnaround for any NFL team that year.
As the defensive coordinator with the Browns (1990-94), he inherited a team that had allowed the most points in the NFL the year before he came (462) and by 1994 turned it into the league's No. 1 scoring defense (204 points), the sixth-fewest points surrendered in NFL history at the time.
Saban and his wife are revered in the Tuscaloosa area for more than just his work on the sidelines at football games.
When Saban was coaching at Michigan State, he and Terry started the Nick's Kids Fund for disadvantaged children, work that has continued since their move to Alabama. More than $2.5 million has been distributed to more than 150 charities through the fund since they arrived in Tuscaloosa.
The Sabans also built 14 homes with Project Team Up and Habitat for Humanity following the April 27, 2011, tornado that struck Tuscaloosa.
In addition, during their time at LSU, they worked as fundraisers for a student-athlete academic center there, and supported several charitable and civic projects in Louisiana. The largest of those efforts was with the Children's Miracle Network, for which they raised more than $100,000 per year.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.
Charleston Gazette Sportsman of the Year
2012 - Nick Saban
2011 - Chris Wallace
2010 - Bob Huggins
2009 - Renee Montgomery
2008 - Alexis Hornbuckle
2007 - Randy Moss
2006 - Nick Swisher
2005 - Mike D'Antoni
2004 - Girls basketball
2003 - Rich Rodriguez
2002 - Rod Thorn
2001 - Nick Saban
2000 - Brett Nelson