In Alabama, Nick Saban walks on water.
The former Miami Dolphins coach, who took over the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide football team 10 years ago and restored it to national champion status, is popular enough to do just about anything he wants in the football-crazy state.
And what he wants to do now is sell cars.
To do so, he's entered a cutthroat industry that is not unlike the game he coaches. Being successful consistently is not easy, and fans only show up when the product is worth spending money on.
Saban — along with partner Joe Agresti — have two Alabama stores that compete in a market that is filled with stores owned by Sonic Automotive Inc., one of the largest dealership groups in the U.S. And Saban is set to expand this month beyond the friendly confines of Alabama to Nashville, home of Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt University as well as, again, competing Sonic stores.
Saban and his wife, Terry, along with Agresti, own Infiniti of Birmingham and Mercedes-Benz of Birmingham, both in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Ala. Agresti is CEO of Dream Motor Group and owns Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge (La.) and Mercedes-Benz of the Woodlands (Texas).