By (Terrin Waack)

In preparation for this weekend’s matchup, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is watching film of a team he is all too familiar: Kent State University.

It’s the 64-year-old coach’s alma mater, where he played as a defensive back from 1970-72. He was coached by College Football Hall of Famer Don James.

“I was telling [wife] Terry this morning, I watch these games and these tapes and look out onto the field and I played there,” Saban said Monday. “I can’t remember too many games that I played in there. I guess I’m getting old.”

Before graduating from Kent State in 1973, Saban helped the Golden Flashes take home a Mid-American Conference championship title.

It wasn’t always happy memories, though. Saban clearly remembers the 1970 massacre that struck his school.

“Certainly to that point in my life, it was one of the most traumatic experiences that’s ever have to deal with,” Saban said. “To have students on your campus shot, killed. Didn’t see it happen, but saw the aftermath right after it happened.

“It’s made me have a lot of appreciation for a lot of things.”

On April 30, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon announced on national television that the United States was going to invade Cambodia, and in result, it needed to draft 150,000 more American soldiers.

Vietnam War protesters were not happy with this number increase and took to the Kent State campus to make their voices be heard. On May 4, 1970, however, the Ohio National Guard opened fire at the unarmed crowd.

“It was kind of over and the National Guard was kind of marching up the hill when all of a sudden they wheeled round and fired into the crowd,” Saban said. “Nobody could ever figure out quite how that happened. It seemed pretty unnecessary.”

Saban was classmates with Allison Krause. She was 19 years old and one of the four students who were killed in the shooting. There were nine others injured.

Although Saban didn’t personally know Krause that well, he recalls how much the entire situation a chilling experience.

“It’s something that makes you view things a little bit differently and certainly have a much better appreciation of not taking for granted life itself,” Saban said.

Even today, 46 years later, the incident left a strong mark in the United States’ history.

“It probably had more to do to stop the war in Vietnam than anything that happened, unfortunately for the students,” Saban said.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports