Nick Saban’s retirement shock brings about end of an era
An epic era came to an end Wednesday afternoon.
A championship era.
A dynastic era.
At the age of 72, after winning a record seven national championships with two different programs, 12 conference titles and 19 bowl games, Nick Saban is calling it quits, ESPN first reported.
He does so as arguably the greatest college football coach of all time, owner of an all-time record of 292-71-1 in 28 seasons as a college head coach.
Saban also spent two years as an NFL head coach, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06.
Besides his age, there werent clear signs Saban was ready to retire. In November, he told ESPN: Ive always said that if youre thinking about retirement, youre probably already retired, and Im not there yet.
Alabama has the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for next season and has been busy in the transfer portal since its season came to an end Jan. 1 in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
4Nick Saban retires arguably as college football’s greatest coach. AP4Saban broke into coaching as a graduate assistant at his alma mater Kent State in 1973 and landed his first head-coaching position 17 years later at Toledo.
After a four-year stint as the Browns defensive coordinator, he took over at Michigan State in 1995.
It wasnt until his next job at LSU that he began to become a household name. He led the Tigers to the 2003 BCS national title, his first of seven championships.
He was known for the phrase the process, stressing the need for players and coaches to focus on the task at hand and never get ahead of themselves or worry about the result.
He also loved to use the phrase rat poison, a term for positive coverage that could distract his team from the ultimate goal.
When Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide had fallen on hard times for a program of its stature. In 2006, it went 6-7.
It hadnt finished in the top 10 of the AP poll since 1999. But he quickly restored order.
Alabama won it all in his third season, and finished No. 1 in his fifth and sixth years there, too.
4Saban won his first college title with LSU, en route to becoming a household name. APA lot of this is about legacy, Saban told ESPN after taking the job at Alabama. This would certainly be something to win the national championship at LSU and then win the national championship at another SEC institution like the University of Alabama, I think would establish a legacy that is pretty unique.
Deion Sanders surprised by Nick Saban’s retirement: ‘Just lost the GOAT’
Under his watch, Alabama won at least 10 games in his final 16 seasons it is the longest streak in the AP poll era and reached the College Football Playoff in eight of the 10 seasons it existed. Perhaps most impressive about his time in Tuscaloosa was his ability to adjust.
The start of his reign was built on smashmouth football, elite defense and a punishing ground attack.
As college football became more wide open, Saban adapted, going to a spread attack.
Alabama became known for its explosive offensive attack under current NFL quarterbacks Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones.
We changed on offense because, as good a defense as we had, when we played Ole Miss and some of these spread teams that ran RPOs, they scored points against us, Saban said in 2021. We would lose the game 44-41. Im saying, Weve got to change our style and be able to outscore people.
4Saban retires with seven national titles to his credit. Getty ImagesAt Alabama, Saban developed four Heisman Trophy winners: running backs Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, wide receiver DeVonta Smith and quarterback Bryce Young.
Nick Saban retirement curbs Alabama’s 2024-25 National Championship odds
He holds the record for most first-round picks with 49, a number that is expected to grow in April.
Ironically, Sabans final year was one of his best coaching jobs. Alabama started slowly, losing at home to Texas and struggling at Central Florida.
It didnt resemble most Saban teams in terms of its dominance.
But the Crimson Tide reached the playoff after upsetting Georgia, which had its 29-game winning streak snapped, in the SEC championship game.
It wasnt a fairytale ending, however, as Alabama came up short in the playoff, falling to eventual national champion Michigan in overtime.
I think I couldnt be prouder of a bunch of guys on a team that has come so far from where we were in the second, third game of the season, Saban said after the win over Georgia. I think this is a great example for a lot of people who want to be successful in terms of the perseverance that these guys showed, the character they had to overcome adversity, the resiliency that they played with.
Once the dust settles, Alabama will have to find a new coach. Oregons Dan Lanning, Notre Dames Marcus Freeman and Clemsons Dabo Swinney are all reportedly possibilities.
Whoever takes the job, will have mammoth shoes to fill.
Its one thing to follow a legend. Its another to take over for the greatest of all time.
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