When Alabama Football fans got the news of Nick Saban's retirement the immediate question was is this the end of Alabama Football as we know it? Will we see a total restructuring of the program? Will the Tide ever reach heights nearly as high as Nick Saban has taken it? Is the program now in a bad place with no clear succession plan?
While we await news on a potential head coach hiring, it's important to remember that this has happened before. When Nick Saban left LSU after the 2004 season the same questions entered the minds of LSU fans after LSU had won a National Championship in 2003.
The LSU fans eventually found out that the infrastructure of a program Saban left behind was so great that even Les Miles couldn't mess it up immediately. Miles would take over with a Saban holdoverJimbo Fisher as his offensive coordinator, and Stacy Searels, another holdover would coach the offensive line. Despite losing their National Championship-winning coach and massive turnover the Tigers went 11-2. This was an incredible season with the departure of Saban and everything that Hurricane Katrina did to the state of Louisiana.
The 2006 season would be a repeat of 2007, with Nick Saban recruit Jamarcus Russell leading the team at quarterback to another 11-2 season. Saban left the program behind the best player in the eyes of NFL Talent evaluators, as well as three other first-round picks in LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe, and Craig Davis.
The 2007 season was for LSU a return to the mountain top, that Alabama Football fans hope the program can reach post-Nick Saban. The 2007 LSU Tigers finished the season 12-2 with a Saban recruit Matt Flynn leading the LSU Tigers to a National Championship at quarterback. Another Saban holdover Glenn Dorsey nearly swept every defensive award that season winning the Nagurski, Outland, Lombardi, Lott, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Alabama Football: Program can and will survive Post Nick Saban
While we're in an entirely new era with transfer portal changes and Name, Image, and Likeness, there's no reason to view Saban's departure as the end of the world. The infrastructure Saban has built for the Alabama Football program, whether it's ideals and messages, or state-of-the-art facilities, will be a massive tool for the right coach. Every great college football coach knows they're great, and while many will run from replacing Saban, the great coaches will embrace the challenge. Jimbo Fisher took over for Bobby Bowden knowing he could fill the shoes and went on to win a National Championship at Florida State. When Steve Spurrier retired, Ron Zook took over and while he never reached Spurrier's heights he recruited many of the players on Urban Meyer's eventual 2006 National Championship Team.
Note: Stats and roster information Via College Football Reference