End Of An Era: Alabama HC Nick Saban Announces Retirement

College football will never be the same.

Nick Saban, longtime Alabama head coach, who brought championships and worldwide recognition to the University’s football program as THE place to launch a football career for college athletes, announced this afternoon he was calling it a career.

From 2007 to 2023, Saban helped the Crimson Tide win nine Southeastern Conference Championships, six National Championships, and 16 victories out of 23 bowl appearances. He was SEC Coach of the Year in 2003 (with LSU), 08, 09, 16 and 20. He coached four Heisman Trophy winners during his time in Alabama (Mark Ingram II, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smtih, and Bryce Young.) His achievements at Alabama have made him one of the greatest football coaches in history to many.

A former defensive back for Kent State, Saban’s coaching career started in 1973 and includes stints in college and the pros. Beyond his career in Alabama, he was head coach with the Miami Dolphins (2005-06), LSU (2000-04), where they won an SEC championship in 2001, and a BCS national championship in 2003. He also head coached for Michigan State (1995-99) and the Cleveland Browns (1991-94).

Saban never coached for the Georgia Bulldogs, but he played a key role in the long-running Bulldogs vs. Alabama rivalry. Under Saban, Alabama defeated Georgia 8 out of 10 times. In four SEC championship meetings in the Saban era, Alabama is undefeated. The two teams won one national championship game against each other in their two national championship meetings (Alabama in 2018, Georgia in 2022.)

In 2016, Georgia hired away Kirby Smart, a longtime assistant to Saban at Alabama to be its new head coach. In game meetings in the Smart/Saban era, Alabama was 6-1 vs. the Bulldogs. That one time was a national title for the Dawgs.

Former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian worked with Saban in 2016 before joining the Falcons in 2017, and then returning to Alabama in 2019. Former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn worked with Saban as a defensive line coach for the Dolphins. Among Falcons players who were a part of Saban’s program at Alabama were Julio Jones (now with the Eagles), and Calvin Ridley (Jaguars).

The story of Saban’s retirement was broken late afternoon by ESPN senior writer Chris Low, and the sports world, already seeing retirements and firings of head coaches in the NFL such as Falcons Arthur Smith, Titans Mike Vrabel, and the Seahawks longtime coach Pete Carroll just hours before the Saban announcement, was stunned by the unexpected news.

Late Wednesday night, Saban himself confirmed his retirement…

“The University of Alabama has been a very special place to Terry and me, We have enjoyed every minute of our 17 years being the head coach at Alabama as well as becoming a part of the Tuscaloosa community. It is not just about how many games we won and lost, but it’s about the legacy and how we went about it. The goal was always to help players create more value for their future, be the best player they could be, and be more successful in life because they were part of the program. Hopefully, we have done that, and we will always consider Alabama our home.”

-Nick Saban

“The contributions Nick Saban has made through his career in college football form a legacy without comparison,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. “His focus on excellence, support for the young men on his teams, career opportunities provided to coaches and championship moments have been achieved through consistency, dedication and care. I have been privileged to work with Nick and wish the best to the entire Saban family.”

Early speculation on who will succeed Saban as Alabama’s head coach includes Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin, and Oregon’s Dan Lanning.

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