Beach Boys with a smile on his face. But behind the smile was a ruthless competitor, a student of aggressive defensive schemes, and, the next year, he left to become the defensive coördinator at North Carolina State. His replacement was another twenty-eight-year-old, Nick Saban, who’d been the defensive-backs coach at West Virginia. Saban was different from Carroll, more punctilious but no less competitive or curious about defenses, with an unusually keen eye for identifying talent. Even so, two years later, Saban was fired, along with most of Ohio State’s defensive staff.

He moved to Navy for a year, where he worked alongside a scout named Steve Belichick. At Belichick’s house for dinner one day, Saban began a friendship with Steve’s son, Bill, who was also a football coach, and roughly the same age. The relationship deepened a few years later, when Saban and Bill met up in West Point to discuss the complexities of the Cover Two defense. By then, Saban was on the staff of the Houston Oilers, and Belichick was the defensive coördinator for the New York

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