By Eric Olson

The Associated Press

CFP title game

No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia

When: 5 p.m. Monday


Nick Saban versus Kirby Smart is only the latest in a line of high-stakes coaching matchups between mentors and mentees over the history of college football.

In 1938, with Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien leading the team, TCU’s Dutch Meyer beat old boss Matty Bell of SMU to finish a 10-0 regular season. The Horned Frogs moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll.

In the 1950s, Bud Wilkinson’s dominant Oklahoma teams won two Orange Bowls over ex-Sooners coach Jim Tatum’s Maryland Terrapins, not to mention a regular-season game over Tatum when he was at North Carolina. Wilkinson said his national champion Sooners’ 20-6 win in the 1956 Orange Bowl was “the most satisfying victory we’ve ever had.”

From 1969-78, fans across the nation were captivated by the “Ten Year War” between Michigan’s Bo Schembechler and Ohio State’s Woody Hayes.

Alabama’s Saban will be coaching against one of his former assistants for the 12th time since 2010, and second time this season, when his Crimson Tide plays Georgia for the national championship in Atlanta.

Smart spent 11 seasons on Saban’s staff, first at LSU, then with the Miami Dolphins, but mostly at Alabama.

Saban is 11-0, including a season-opening 24-7 win over the Florida State team coached by Jimbo Fisher.

“Well, I don’t think the game is about the coaches. I think it’s about the players,” Saban said this week. “And I think in most of those games, if the other guy had the players that we had, they might have beat us. You prepare the players the best you can, but we’ve had pretty good teams around here. Most of the guys were going to rebuild programs, so maybe we’re a little bit ahead of them, and if they had had our team, they’d have probably beat us.”

Barry Alvarez, former Wisconsin coach and now the school’s athletic director, was on Hayden Fry’s Iowa staff from 1979-86 and lost his first five meetings with Fry. Alvarez broke through against a 12th-ranked Iowa team 13-10 in 1997. The next year the Badgers won 31-0 on their way to the Rose Bowl.

“Once the game starts you’re into the game. It’s not about you and the person,” Alvarez said. “You try to possibly think like that person in preparation — put yourself in their situation behind the scenes on how they think, how they game plan and whatever you could pull from that to help you design your own game plan.”