The resignation of coaches like Nick Saban is always shocking, especially when Alabama hasn’t faced any real setbacks. Maybe a half step back, but certainly nowhere near the level of Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno, and that leads to a lot of speculation about why he is doing this now, as reported by some. The coach calls it a career, igniting much debate and talk.
When we get this explanation – if we get it – the choice will make sense in hindsight, but it will not ease the sudden finality for Alabama fans.
The 72-year-old Saban won seven national titles, six in Tuscaloosa and one at LSU. His best teams are as good as any and the abundance of incredible talents he has recruited and developed puts him on par with elite Miami. People will remember the receivers and the four Heisman winners, but should also talk about the defensive personnel that came into the NFL as prepared and refined as possible.
His departure puts the SEC in a bit of turmoil, as coaching transitions are never seamless, not to mention the upcoming realignment of the conference. Under Saban and the impending expansion of the College Football Playoffs, fans could have written „Alabama“ in ink on their 12-team lineup, and now can only pencil them in at best.
Regardless of what you think of Saban, this is an earthquake loss for college football, one that will lead to several toasts – farewell and good wishes. The symbolic villain of the sport, the patron saint of the SEC, is retiring. Paul Finebaum’s best friend and mentor, and Pat McAfee’s second favorite guest, are stepping down.
The landscape of college football has dramatically changed with the introduction of NIL money and the transfer portal, making retaining a roster as important as recruiting one. The stress and pressure of aligning college students with the vision of an NFL star must be a burden for college football coaches, for which the millions of dollars are there, but even at the highest salary rate in the country, Saban’s patience is wearing thin.
Who knows if that played a role, or if Nick Saban would ever admit it. What we do know is that if he has coached his last college football game, he leaves the sport as the greatest coach of this century, with an argument for the GOAT.