It's hard to say who might feel worse at the sight of Nick Saban in purple and gold—fans of LSU, the school from which he bolted in 2004 for the NFL; or fans of Alabama, where Saban now coaches. Both groups should know what they're getting into before they see The Blind Side, director John Lee Hancock's adaptation of Michael Lewis's 2006 best seller about Michael Oher, the left tackle who grew up homeless in Memphis before he was adopted by a wealthy family and became one of college football's most recruited players. The film will be in theaters on Nov. 20.
Saban and five other current or former SEC coaches—Phillip Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron and Tommy Tuberville—play themselves circa 2004, which means Saban appears wearing a Tigers tie and working in a replica of his memorabilia-filled LSU office. "I just did what I did at the time," Saban told SI, which visited the set last summer. "I'm sure our fans understand, and I know the players understand that our loyalty and love is with Alabama."
None of the coaches are still with the teams they represent in the film, but they all reenacted their in-home recruiting pitches—this time with the star who portrays Oher's adoptive mother. "I was nervous when Sandra Bullock came to the door," said Nutt, who coached Arkansas in '04 but is now at Ole Miss (where Oher was recruited by Orgeron). "We're always around cameras, but this was different."
¬© WARNER BROTHERS/EVERETT COLLECTION (POSTER)
RALPH NELSON/ALCON ENTERTAINMENT (BLIND SIDE)
SHOOTING BLIND Saban had the eye of the Tigers; Holtz (left, next to Hancock) wooed Quinton Aaron (as Oher).