The end of an era; Nick Saban retires

Jan. 11—TUSCALOOSA- After a 28 year coaching career, seven national titles, eight trips to the CFP and an overall college football record of 297-71-1 the college football icon Nick Saban has retired.

After a playoff exit in an overtime thriller against eventual champion Michigan, Saban is walking away from his role as the head coach of the Crimson Tide. This is not the first time Saban has considered retirement. For the last few seasons the 72-year-old coach and his wife Terry have taken time after the college football season to reflect and make the decision on whether Saban should continue coaching or not. This time, they decided that it was time to call it a day.

Though many have speculated that Saban would retire after this season, the announcement still came as a shock to the college football world. Saban has been a staple of the college football world for decades and for many fans they have never known college football without Nick Saban.

Saban, just like everything else, retired his own way on his own terms. He insisted that his players be the first to hear the news before it was announced to the public on Wednesday.

Some have speculated that what led to Saban's departure from coaching was the explosion of the transfer portal and NIL in the world of college football. Saban made his feelings about the direction of college football clear.

"We had an SEC conference call, 14 coaches on there, 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," Saban said in an interview with ESPN.

However, Saban shot down the idea that NIL has anything to do with his retirement telling ESPN in the same interview, "don't make it about that. It's not about that."

What is far more likely is that Saban is 72-years-old and the 12 to 14 hours a day of grueling coaching, recruiting and game planning are simply too much now. College football coaches have one of, if not the, most demanding job in sports. Long hours, constant management of players and staff, the weight and pressure of an entire university and its fan base can be too much for even the most battle hardened coaches.

Saban's plans for the future are not currently known. Some have posited that the legendary coach may make a move to TV. He has been involved in pre-game shows like College Gameday before and has proven to have real talent on screen with popular television personality Rece Davis stating that he would love to work with Saban.

Saban did tell ESPN that he would continue to be involved at Alabama saying, "I'm still going to have a presence here at the university in some form and trying to figure out all that and how it works. This is a place that will never be too far away from Mrs. Terry's and my hearts."

Of course, names are already being thrown around for who will take on the impossible expectation Saban has left behind at Alabama. Almost every top coach in the country has been mentioned from Ohio State's Ryan Day to Clemson's Dabo Swinney to former Bama OC and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. The Longhorns Steve Sarkisian and FSU's Mike Norvell have also been thrown into the mix. This is all speculation and probably way too early speculation, but the question remains. Who will take over Alabama and will they ever fill the impossibly big shoes of Nick Saban?