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Nick Saban has officially retired from college football

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2024 3:55 pm

Nick Saban has officially retired from college football

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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January 11, 2024 3:55 pm

Tony Barnhart, TMG College Sports Columnist, on Nick Saban’s career and decision to retire.

Does Tony think the NFL was a regret? How does he believe he looks back at his time with the Miami Dolphins? What are the numbers that stand out to Tony? Is Nick Saban’s personality much bigger than it is when people are viewing him coach, compared to how he is naturally? What does Tony recommend keeping an eye on going forward?


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That's right. has over 100 casino-style games. Join today and play for free for your chance to redeem some serious prizes. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chumba. First person, very first person I contacted when I saw the news yesterday that Nick Saban was going to retire was Mr. College Football himself, Tony Barnhart. You are Mr. College Football, sir.

And again, first person I thought of. I want to get Tony's thoughts on putting Nick Saban in perspective. How do you put what he has accomplished in his coaching career, and obviously Alabama is the highlight of it, but how do you put it in perspective? Well, I maintain, Adam, you don't have to put it in perspective because what he does stands alone, and it stands alone so much that it's Nick Saban, and then you can talk about everybody else and put there what they've done. But no, we will never see what Nick Saban has done at a time when the SEC is in its heyday. Four different teams from the SEC have won national championships in the past dozen years, so the SEC is in its golden era right now, and Nick Saban, except for what Kirby Smart's done the last three years, four years at Georgia, Nick Saban dominated that period of time.

Yeah, I mean, if Kirby Smart could just do it for like another ten years, then he could basically pull even. Well, and that's ultimately, I guess, how you can put it in perspective is what Kirby Smart has done has just been phenomenal, and they came very close to winning the third straight national championship. But you still look at what Kirby Smart has done, and he's still six national championships behind Nick Saban.

I mean, that puts it in perspective. Six at Alabama, one at LSU. He won at Toledo. He was turning around a program at Michigan State before he even got to LSU.

And then I guess he wanted to scratch the itch. Do you think the NFL was a regret of his? How do you think he viewed his sojourn with the Miami Dolphins?

I think at the end of the day, he said he had to at least give it a try. I mean, he was in an organization that would not get him an NFL caliber quarterback, and he couldn't make the moves he wanted to make. But I think because of his time with Belichick with the Cleveland Browns, I think he felt like he had to give it a shot.

But at the end of the day, just in my conversations with him, he's a leader. I don't think the mentality of the NFL. I mean, the NFL is a great league, God's greatest athletes in the world who played the game. But I don't think it was ever a fit for Nick Saban. Well, I agree with that.

It is interesting because the calculus changes. The players are really in charge in the NFL. The only one who might buck that is his close friend, Bill Belichick, for whom he worked as a defensive coordinator in Cleveland for a hot minute. So Belichick's probably the only guy who could pull off what Nick Saban, you know, the way that player-coach dynamic where the coach was absolutely in charge.

Everybody else. It is a player-controlled league. Of all the numbers of the 292 wins, seven national titles, what, like a dozen conference championships, something like that, what are the numbers that stand out to you about it? Well, obviously, to, you know, to win eight national, if you could have won his eighth national championship, obviously six at Alabama, which matches what Barry Bryant did, won at LSU at a time when LSU was sort of struggling to find their identity. I think the seven national championships, the 11 SEC championships, and just the fact that they have been consistently good since, I want to say since 2010, the worst season Alabama has had since 2010 is 10 and 3.

And the idea of Alabama not winning in double digits is something you can't even comprehend. And, you know, one of the things I've thought about, I remember sitting in Steve Spurrier's office when he was at South Carolina, and I've known Steve since he was offensive coordinator at Duke. I mean, that's how long he and I have known each other. And I just asked him flat out, I said, what will happen to make you walk away? He said, well, I'll tell you this right now, I'm not going to stick around and be a 7-5 coach.

Well, you know what? He was headed towards 7 and 5 when he walked away. And Nick Saban could not have, he could not abide 7 and 5, 8 and 4, that he could absolutely not abide.

And that would have been the thing that ultimately drove him away. Tony Barnhart, longtime columnist now for TMG College Sports. You can hear him on the radio, on SEC radio. You can hear him occasionally if you're driving through Nashville.

He's everywhere, MrCollegeFootball at MrCFB on Twitter. He's also been, and I think this is the rare quality that coaches, that great coaches have, is that they are in some ways adaptable. And I think it was probably the time where Clemson started to push Alabama, where they realized we have to change our offense. We have to change our philosophy.

We're not going to just be able to line up, run it down your throat and stop you all the time because the game has changed. How did Nick, did Nick get to that point reluctantly or how do you view that? Well, this will surprise you, but it was a process. And I remember sitting in his office, and one of the things, I go to see him a couple, three times a year, and I can't remember what the year was, but I would always come to the end. I would put my notebook and tape recorder away, and I would just close everything up and I'd look at him and say, okay, what's next? And the reason I always did that was because Saban was always a step ahead or two steps ahead of the guys he was coaching against. And all of a sudden I said, okay, so what's next? He said, we've got to start scoring more points.

And I said, really? He said, yep, we've got to start scoring more points. We've got to, you know, you'll remember when the spread offenses came into play and the offense went up tempo where you couldn't substitute on defense unless the offense did. And it was Nick Saban who infamously said, is this what we want college football to be? And he got draped, just drug over the coals for that and all that. And finally, what he did was he made the decision, okay, so this is the way we're going to play, right?

Well, then I'm going to do it better than anybody else. And he goes out and he hires Lane Kiffin, and they get a bunch of first round quarterbacks in a row, as good a wide receivers as there was in the game. And he completely changed the way he did it because he knew he had to adapt if he was going to play for championships. And that's that. And then then this year when he didn't have a first round draft choice at quarterback, he said, well, let's figure out what our guy, Jason J. Jalen Milro can do. He brought his coaches in and said, let's figure out what Jalen could do and let's do that. And let's don't try to do stuff he can't do.

So you've got to adapt. And one last thing, no quit. And I said this publicly, this of all the he's been a head coach for forever.

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See website for details. Yeah, you know, I think I saw him say where like that might have been the most fun he's had coaching a team. So in that respect, are you surprised that he decided to retire?

As earlier this week, I was talking to a member of the staff and I brought that subject up. And this person, this person felt like if he had won the national championship, he was definitely going to walk away. But the fact that he had a young team coming back, he was going to give it one more shot. But he said something to Chris Lowe of ESPN that I thought was very telling.

And it was this. If you're thinking about retiring, then you're retired, right? And that's Nick. That's Nick Saban to a T. He said, if I'm sitting here thinking about this and I have to think that I have to think about this one, then I'm I'm already retired. And I think he said, you know, he didn't get the true moment to ride off in the sunset.

But you know what? He beat Georgia and Curly Smart for the SEC championship with a team that everybody thought was going to go eight and four. That's that's his riding off in the sunset. Final thing for Tony Barnhart at Mr. CFB on Twitter. Nick is sneaky, good, not even only sneaky is the right word. He's good on television. Is his personality much bigger than people think, given his public persona as a coach?

Yeah, because he feels like when he's the coach, he's got to be more buttoned down. And I think first of all, he's got a great sense of humor. It's a dry sense of humor when you sit in his office with him. He will make you laugh. But he's not he's not going to act that way in public because he has to button everything down. I'd love to see him do some extended time at television because he's good. He is good at it.

But I tell you what, somebody brought this up to me last night and just keep your eye on this. College football is that appear as a period of its existence where they desperately need to change things and come up with a commissioner of college football. Who would be a better commissioner of college football than Nick Saban? I agree with you. And I said the same thing about Mike Krzyzewski with basketball and Coach K really didn't want any part of that.

I mean, he didn't. And somebody needs to somebody needs to run each of those sports for the sake of the of the sports. It's themselves because who knows where this is headed with college football. I contend that college football 10 years from now will not be recognizable to us today. College football 10 years from now, Adam, is going to look a lot like a lot like the NFL.

Yeah, I agree. Or I think it could even look like Premier League football soccer. I think we could be we could be looking at something that really has we had no idea how it's going to be. There's so much money and they haven't even started with the money yet. The money is going to get met.

It will be very similar to I think to NFL money based on television ratings. Tony Barnhart at Mr. CFB on Twitter. I thank you so much. Appreciate your time, especially on short notice. Be well. Happy New Year to you. We'll talk to you soon. All right, Adam. Take care, buddy.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-11 17:02:11 / 2024-01-11 17:07:59 / 6

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