Nick Saban has retired. The Alabama Crimson Tide coach amassed a 292-71-1 record over 17 seasons at Alabama, five at LSU, five at Michigan State, and one at Toledo. He also had some hilarious moments as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, a team he fled to after losing to Iowa in a bowl game.
That’s a largely glib write-up of an illustrious career—Saban created one of the great dynasties of college football history at Alabama. The usual griping about NIL and transfer rules and whatever else aside, which most coaches do, Saban seems like a genuinely decent human being. There will be quote a void in the post-Saban word of college football.
We’ll let our writers take it from there:
WSR: First of all, Nick Saban was the sun, the moon, and the stars of college football. He was the greatest college football coach of all time, and it's not even close.
I have a couple thoughts on college football post-Saban:
- Whoever follows him to Alabama will have an easier time now with NIL than it would have been in the old world. It’s still going to be a blast to watch the next man up to get the booster to keep all singing the same hymn.
- LOL Auburn. You hired a guy because he beat Saban (only mostly due to the fact that he was paying better than anyone during the pre-NIL era), and now Saban’s gone. Enjoy that buyout.
- The fallout of this is incalculable right now. Nobody's sitting head coach is safe right now, because Alabama could hire anyone, and the school they poach from probably can hire anyone. Hold on to your butts, kids.
Larry31: This feels an a lot like Jay Wright retiring from Villanova. Both were at the top of their respective professions and did not like the current state of affairs. How do you ingrain a team personality and team chemistry when every player is essentially a free agent?
Kind of...: Snark-wise, it is pretty cool that a loss to Iowa drove him to the NFL and a loss to Michigan drove him to retirement.
Honestly, he seemed more decent than most coaches who even approached his level of success. He was at the top, so you hate him, but he was on the right side of paying players, unlike, say Dabo. There’s no mega-scandal involving abuse that has come out yet. He’d chew a player out, but it seems like the worst affront he committed in that area was making an NFL player cry. I’m not going to think too hard on this, but of college coaches who’ve dominated the landscape the last two decades, I prefer him to Dabo, Brian Kelly, Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer, John Calipari, Bill Self, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewksi, and Roy Williams.
At the same time, he drafted Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers, so only lasted two years in the pros. We give coaches way too much credit. Let’s go ahead and say he’s the greatest CFB coach ever. Let’s say he’s one of the best defensive strategists ever. His recruiting chops are still more responsible for his success than anything x-and-o wise because players aren’t chess pieces. Maybe if he were 62 instead of 72 he’d stay and try to prove himself in the NIL era, but, as Larry pointed out, that change is seismic, and tidal waves can’t be out-strategized.
BoilerUp89: I'm legally obligated to state that Saban finishes with a losing record to Purdue. As far as successful college coaches go, Saban appears to be a better human than most. I say appears because you never really know, but he certainly doesn't come across as problematic like Urban or others in the SEC.