There are frequent claims the reign of Nick Saban as the game’s King is waning. Signs of Nick slipping below being the GOAT are being misread.
Outside of the Alabama football fanbase, much of college football is ready for the demise of Nick Saban. Saban is reviled nearly as much as he is respected. Every clue Nick Saban might be slipping is seized upon as conclusive proof.
Consider the prominent Nick Saban storylines of the past couple of years. First, is the attrition of assistant coaches and the resulting lack of continuity in the program. Going back to the 2017 Alabama football staff, Nick Saban has seen the exits of 12 assistant coaches.
The number is somewhat misleading. Two, Jeremy Pruitt and Mike Locksley became head coaches. Burton Burns decided it was time for a transition to football administration rather than on-field coaching. Two or three opted for the NFL rather than face the rigors of recruiting. Two or three more came up short of Nick Saban’s coaching standard. The exits of probably only three surprised and disappointed Nick Saban; Derrick Ansley, Josh Gattis and Dan Enos.
The bottom line is Nick Saban demands the same excellence in assistants that he demands in himself. It is perhaps an unrealistically high bar. The environment for Saban assistants is not new and the turnover is no reason for Nick Saban to demand less of his staff. The Nick Saban coaching tree is filled with those who have thrived.
The other slippage storyline was the 2018 Crimson Tide signing class dipping to No. 5 in the nation. Saban followed that blip with a No.1 class in 2019 and is close to achieving another No. 1 class with 2020 recruits. The pace of attraction by elite players to the Alabama program shows no sign of slippage in the 2021 and 2022 classes. As it has been for over a decade, young men are still thrilled and honored to receive an offer from Saban.
Another slippage claim comes from the Crimson Tide’s stunning failure against Clemson. Critics point to examples of the Alabama football defense looking confused and some suggest unprepared for the Clemson offense. Those critics are not wrong. A few insiders later said Nick saw those weaknesses long before the national championship game. He did not have the healthy depth and attendant player experience to remedy the problem.
The Clemson-slippage claim will be reinforced or refuted by how the Crimson Tide performs in the 2019 season. Tide fans believe the current coaching staff and a healthier roster are the solutions.
The final Nick Saban slippage claim is irrefutable. He is aging. The recent hip replacement is evidence. But it is a future issue, not one existing today. And that future point in time is way off for arguably the youngest 67-year old in the game. He has plenty of miles and seasons left in him.
Those anxiously awaiting Nick Saban’s demise are likely in for a long wait.
Instead of every so-called expert guessing about an end for Nick Saban, one person in Tuscaloosa has the insight. Before anyone else, Miss Terry will know.