Longest-tenured college football coaches: How long was Nick Saban at Alabama before retiring?

An era of college football came to an end Wednesday, with Nick Saban retiring from Alabama.

The college football institution won six national championships with Alabama and is revered as one of the best coaches in the sport's history. He leaves a job opening that will be among the most coveted in the country, as the Crimson Tide look to run back a playoff appearance in 2024.

Saban had been with the Tide since 2007, which before his retirement was tied as the fourth-longest tenure among active FBS coaches. The only names ahead of him were Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy and Utah's Kyle Whittingham. Troy Calhoun has also been with Air Force since 2007.

MORE: Relive Nick Saban's epic Alabama football coaching career with our special book!

Before joining Alabama, Saban had head-coaching stints with Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and the NFL's Miami Dolphins. He landed in Tuscaloosa and began what can be described as a reign of terror in the SEC. In Saban's 17 years with the Tide, fellow SEC stalwarts cycled through coaches. LSU is on its third, while Florida and Auburn are on their fifth. Georgia is the one school it could be said has withstood the Saban storm, having moved from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart relatively seamlessly.

Here's look at the longest-tenured active coaches in college football with Saban's retirement.

Longest-tenured active coaches in college football

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(Coaches' first season listed in parentheses)

  • Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: 24 years (1999)

  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: 19 years (2005)

  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah: 19 years (2005)*

  • Troy Calhoun, Air Force: 17 years (2007)

  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: 15 years (2009)

  • Dave Doeren, NC State: 11 years (2013)

  • Mark Stoops, Kentucky: 11 years (2013)

  • Dave Clawson, Wake Forest: 10 years (2014)

  • K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston State: 10 years (2014)

  • Jeff Monken, Army: 10 years (2014)

  • Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan: 10 years (2014)

  • Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio): 10 years (2014)

* Whittingham was co-head coach for 2005 Fiesta Bowl

Middle Tennessee fired its coach since 2006, Rick Stockstill, after this season, moving Saban and Calhoun into what was a tie for the fourth-longest-tenured coaches in college football. Saban's retirement moves Calhoun alone into fourth and bumps Clemson's Dabo Swinney into fifth. Ferentz, of course, is an interesting case given his son Brian was fired this year, obscuring his future with the Hawkeyes.

Of the longest-tenured coaches, only Swinney remotely rivals Saban's success. Saban leaves a program poised to continue to thrive. Now the question becomes who is the one to help it do so.

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This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Longest-tenured college football coaches: Where was Alabama's Nick Saban?