Alabama football fans are enjoying how wrong many in the college football world were earlier this season. Doubting Nick Saban is such a popular topic, that the most recent chatter has been going on since the Alabama Crimson Tide failed to make the CFB Playoff last season.
After the Crimson Tide’s shaky start to the season, the national chorus swelled with the theme that Nick Saban had lost his touch. Saban was said to have ‘lost his fastball’ or ‘lost a step’ or in more precise terms he was described as an aging coach the game had passed by.
Now with Alabama Football at 7-1 and a legitimate contender for a CFB Playoff spot, the Saban ‘has lost it’ nonsense has faded. Some have even acknowledged that Saban is doing some of his best work with this season’s Crimson Tide team.
Unfortunately, even if Alabama wins a National Championship season, as soon as any excuse is provided, ‘Saban is washed-up’ nonsense will quickly be revived. Some of it comes from jealousy, some from society’s fixation on tearing down well-known individuals. Justifiably, some of it is a byproduct of Saban’s age. He turns 71 on Halloween. Despite his apparent good health, at the least, his age means his career is far closer to the end than the beginning.
In a recent story on Saban, Blake Toppmeyer wrote,
"Nick Saban appears to be having a helluva of a time this Alabama football season, and I hope no Crimson Tide fan takes this for granted.What — or rather, who — would be the alternative, if Saban retired?"
Toppmeyer went on to explain that currently the options to replace Nick Saban are basically none.
"who replaces the irreplaceable?… the list of qualified heirs never has been shorter.Lane Kiffin once told me that trying to follow Saban “would be the dumbest follow ever.”"
As Lane knows, there would be no grace period in Tuscaloosa. Whenever it eventually happens, the first season ‘after-Saban’ in Tuscaloosa the new coach will be expected to win a National Championship. And it would not just be that season, it would be every season.
Toppmeyer added that with all the challenges this season, Saban seems to be enjoying his job as much or more than ever. Toppmeyer’s closing line is,
"I’m wondering if the fun is just beginning, while Saban prepares his coaching renaissance, at a moment when Alabama needs him as much as ever."
What comes to mind is it might be possible that Alabama Football needs Nick Saban this year and in the coming years MORE than ever. Not more than in 2007-2009, of course. And maybe not as much as the 2007-2012 period, but does the Crimson Tide need Nick Saban more now than it did in the 2013 through 2022 seasons? I think the answer is yes.
Intentionally, unlike Toppmeyer, no coaches are mentioned in this post as possible successors.