Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s historic title chase could spark new interest in already hot autographs

With a victory tonight, University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban would equal a giant not only in the history of college football but a giant in his school’s history.

His Crimson Tide plays in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Paul W. Bryant Drive down the road from the Paul W. Bryant Museum and the Bryant Conference Center — all reminders of Bear Bryant and his NCAA-record six national championships and 323 career victories. (Saban is at 285.)

Tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship is Saban’s sixth title-game appearance in the last nine years and with a win he’ll have his sixth season title for his career. Saban had his chance at tying Bryant last season when his undefeated team lost in the final seconds on the final play of the game against Clemson, which Alabama knocked off in a rematch this year to advance to tonight’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Both of Alabama’s postseason foes this year are coached by former Tide assistants, Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Kirby Smart at Georgia, but neither has autographs and football card appearances as easily found as the legend of today, Saban.

Swinney remains cardless in major releases, while Smart appears in last year’s Allen & Ginter baseball card set from Topps but didn’t appear on an autograph or memorabilia card, unlike Saban who signed for the release back in 2013.

Saban has two certified autographs in 2013 Ginter — a standard blue-ink auto and a red-ink auto card limited to 10 — along with a Relic. In addition to those, Saban has roughly 20 certified autograph cards from Upper Deck‘s run as the exclusive college football card-maker with rare signed cards in the 2012 Upper Deck Alabama set, 2014 Exquisite Collection and 2014 Upper Deck Conference Greats. That may sound like a lot, but nearly all of his autograph cards are short-print or low-volume serial-numbered cards.

Saban’s earliest card came during his brief stint as coach of the Miami Dolphins when the 2005 Bowman set included a number of coaches — a “Rookie Card” that sells for a few bucks. His autographs typically have sold for between $140 and $175 in recent months with asking prices on rarer and graded copies much higher.

Bryant, who died less than a month after coaching his final game back in 1983, appears on a handful of memorabilia cards from Panini America, which cut up one of his famed Houndstooth check fedoras for cards in its 2010 Panini Century Collection release and more recently a 1/1 cut auto memorabilia in 2017 Panini Flawless Collegiate. His only certified autograph cards are cuts — he has roughly 10 between a number of products made in the last decade between several companies. Nearly all of them are 1/1 creations.

The College Football Playoff National Championship is set for 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

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