The greatest coach in college football history called it a career on Wednesday after 28 years as a head coach at the collegiate level.
For the past 17 years, Nick Saban has been the head coach at Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to nine SEC titles and six national championships.
As college football continues to undergo massive changes — such as conference realignment, the transfer portal and name, image and likeness (NIL) — one former college football star believes that the changing landscape is the reason Saban got out when he did.
“NIL ran him away, he has no more control over 5 star recruits, the playing field is level, and he can’t handle that,” former USC star Reggie Bush commented on ESPN’s Instagram post which contained Saban citing his age for the reason behind his retirement.
Saban told ESPN in a televised interview that his health and that of his wife, Miss Terry, were fine, but the grind of the 2023 season took a little more out of him than usual.
In an interview with ESPN, Saban, 72, said the changing landscape of the sport had nothing to do with his decision to hang up the headset.
“Don’t make it about that. It’s not about that,” Saban said. “To me, if you choose to coach, you don’t need to be complaining about all that stuff. You need to adjust to it and adapt to it and do the best you can under the circumstances and not complain about it. Now, I think everybody is frustrated about it. We had an SEC conference call, 14 coaches on there [Wednesday], and there’s not one guy you can talk to who really understands what’s happening in college football and thinks that it’s not an issue.
“But [his retirement] ain’t about that. We’ve been in this era for three years now, and we’ve adapted to it and won in this era, too. It’s just that I’ve always known when it would be time to turn it over to somebody else, and this is that time.”
Alabama hired former Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer on Friday to succeed Saban.
DeBoer led Washington to the national championship game on Monday, where his Huskies fell to the Michigan Wolverines.
“I want nothing more than to see Alabama football continue to be successful, and Coach DeBoer is an outstanding choice to lead this program,” Saban said in part in a statement after the hire.
DeBoer was introduced as the Alabama head coach at a press conference on Saturday, where Saban was present.
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