I never truly thought the day would come, but the Nick Saban era at Alabama has officially come to a close. Saban made the stunning decision to step away from the sport last Wednesday afternoon in a move that sent shock waves across the college football landscape. In turn, the Tide landed former Washington head coach Kalen Deboer to fill the legends shoes. The hire is an absolute home run for Greg Byrne and the athletic department, but it doesn’t take away from the heartbreak of Saban stepping away.
Aside from being the greatest coach the sport has ever seen, it’s the man he has been for the University and the people of Tuscaloosa that has made him so beloved. The decision to step away was never going to be an easy one, but after 17 years he had given the program everything he could and was ready for the next chapter of his life, retirement.
Prior to Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa the University had never claimed a Heisman Trophy, then during his tenure they claimed four. The Tide had 12 national championships when he arrived, and he leaves the school with 18 now. He went 9-1 in SEC Championship games and had more first-round NFL draft picks (44) than losses at Alabama (27). Accolades and records that truly don’t even make sense.
As great as Saban was, a large part of his success must also be attributed to some incredible players. PFF College ranked the highest graded Alabama players under Saban, and DL Quinnen Williams was the highest ranked player with a grade of 96.0. Interestingly enough, Bryce Young was the only Heisman winner to make the list.
Highest graded Alabama players under Nick Saban in the PFF era🐘 pic.twitter.com/ac5Hw22IQr
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 12, 2024