Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked on Tuesday for reflections on the life of Wayne Huizenga. The former Miami Dolphins owner, who hired Saban away from LSU in 2004 and did not stand in the coach’s way when he opted to return to college football two years later, died at his south Florida home on Thursday night.
The Alabama head coach was both philosophical and emotional in describing his relationship with Huizenga.
“One day, when you sit down on the side of the hill, you will think about the people who had the greatest impact on you,” Saban said. “You will think of how they affected you, how much respect you had for them, how much compassion they had for other people, (not just) their accomplishments, but how they did it.
“There is no one I know, other than my parents, that is someone I’d more like to emulate than Wayne Huizenga. The way he treated other people, the class that he had, the intelligence — he was the classiest man you’re ever going to meet.”
Huizenga, a self-made billionaire, was active in south Florida sports for two decades, owning the Florida Marlins (MLB) and Florida Panthers (NHL) as well as the Dolphins.
“Anybody that starts from basically scratch and builds three Fortune 500 companies (Waste Management, Inc., Blockbuster Video and Auto Nation), that tells you something but it was also the way he treated people.
“Nobody I know has treated my family better and we appreciate him.”