No matter how much opposing coaches wish it to be true, Alabama football coach Nick Saban shows zero signs of slowing down.
The old adage “all is fair in love and war” could easily apply to CFB recruiting. In an attempt to counter the Alabama football – Nick Saban machine, negative recruiting is often used. The most negative thing opposing coaches can use against Nick Saban is the claim his career will end soon.
The inexorable advance of time gives the claim traction in some minds. The man will turn 67 before November rolls around next fall. At his age, opposing coaches want to see Saban slowing down, on the edge of slipping to mere mortal status.
Kirby Smart has been often derided for making the Saban-age-retirement argument the most loudly and the most often. That is probably unfair. His voice is doubtless just part of a chorus.
Saban predictions have been flawed since 2007
The irony is SEC coaches (and others) have been saying since 2007, Nick would never stay at Alabama five seasons. Season after season, Nick was reported to be on the verge on a mammoth contract at another school or in the NFL. He is now preparing for his twelfth Alabama football season. Barring unforeseen health issues, it surely is nowhere near his last.
Let opposing coaches bray all they want – there are some indisputable facts. In the soon to be 12 seasons Saban has been in Tuscaloosa, the SEC has had 41 other head coaches. Even more, if numerous interim gigs are added to the list. In a good take on the same subject, Chris Walsh tracks the same data a bit differently.
Among the schools that now make up the SEC … there have been 30 coaching changes since 2008… Every other SEC program has made at least one change at the top since 2013.
Other SEC head coaches in Saban-Alabama era
Two schools, Arkansas and Tennessee have had five head coaches in the Saban-Alabama era. Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt have had four. Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State have had three. Only four schools have approached Saban-like continuity with just two head coaches during the period.
Chris Walsh makes a good point in his story. It could fairly apply to all the other SEC programs. Walsh’s premise is “What are the odds x coach will be at x school in 5 years”? History and current dynamics strongly suggest the odds for Saban at Alabama, five years hence, are high, and higher than for the coaches at most SEC schools.
The Saban current dynamics are he is in excellent health. He has no interest in doing something else than coaching football. He has no interest in doing it anywhere but Alabama. Insiders disclose the new staff, filled with young, hungry assistant coaches, has amplified Nick’s energy. Which is not to say Saban needs any help amping-up himself or others around him.
The rest of the CFB world, waiting for the Saban-star to dim, best have a deep reservoir of patience. Over the next five-to-seven seasons (or longer) there will be more head coach carnage across the SEC. Much of it will be driven by a failure to take down Nick Saban.