Nick Saban Retires at Alabama After 17 Years and 6 Titles

Seven-time national champion college football coach Nick Saban is retiring from the University of Alabama after 17 seasons, according to multiple media reports.

Saban’s Crimson Tide won their second SEC title in three years in 2023 before falling to eventual champion Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Saban was the highest-paid coach in amateur athletics and the 10th best-compensated in all of American sports as of November, earning $11.8 million annually. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is now the highest paid active coach.

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Saban has a college football record of 292-71-1 across stops at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama, where he won six more national championships after claiming his first title at LSU during the 2003 season. His last title came at the end of 2020, breaking Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record for most national championships. Saban also spent two years leading the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.

During Saban’s tenure, Alabama became one of the richest athletics departments in the country. The Crimson Tide had a $195.9 million athletics budget in 2021-22, the third-highest among all public schools, according to Sportico‘s college finance database. Football coaching staff compensation that year was $35.1 million, which ranks seventh.

The impact of the football team’s success extended beyond Alabama athletics. The school’s total fall enrollment was 25,580 in 2007, Saban’s first year at the helm. It was 38,645 in 2022, a 51% increase. Home games have been shown to bring in an average of $20 million for the local economy (up 50% from before Saban’s arrival), leading Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox to reference “Sabanomics.”

“Nick Saban is the best financial investment this university has ever made,” then-Alabama chancellor Robert Witt told 60 Minutes back in 2013.

The 72-year-old football lifer has been outspoken about recent changes to NCAA policies, including opening up the ability for college players to be compensated for their name, image and likeness.

“I’m all for the players sharing in what’s happening,” Saban said ahead of this year’s Rose Bowl. “You’ve got guys transferring from one team to the next at will with very little guidelines as to how to control any of these things, and we’re gonna have a playoff very similar to the NFL…. and I’m not saying any of those things are bad. I’m just saying they’re all complete changes from what we had five years ago.”

The news still comes as a surprise to the college football world. "I've always said that if you're thinking about retirement, you're probably already retired, and I'm not there yet," Saban told ESPN in November. With Saban out, Crimson Tide football players will now receive an extra 30 days to enter the transfer portal.

Saban has built a business portfolio outside of his lucrative coaching compensation. He's appeared in national ad campaigns, including an ongoing series with insurance giant Aflac, and he co-owns a group of car dealerships called Dream Motor Group. The company recently purchased two Florida-based Mercedes-Benz dealerships for $700 million, according to Automotive News.

In August, Saban reportedly purchased a $17.5 million estate in Florida's exclusive Jupiter Island, just down the road from where Tiger Woods lives.

An Alabama spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

--With assistance from Daniel Libit and Eben Novy-Williams.

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