Nick Saban reveals the question he kept getting from coaches and players before retirement


Nick Saban stunned the college football world earlier this year when he announced his retirement from the sport following six national championships in 17 seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Saban opened up to ESPN broadcaster Paul Finebaum about his decision to retire and the one question he kept getting from coaches he tried to hire for his staff.

“We just adapted to (NIL). We actually won when we had to deal with name, image and likeness. I wish we’d have won the playoff game this year. Lost it in overtime. We had a good team coming back, but I didn’t want to ride the program down,” Saban said, via On3 Sports.

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Nick Saban before the Rose Bowl

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban at the Rose Bowl coaches press conference at the Sheraton Grand in Los Angeles on Dec. 31, 2023. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

“I tried to hire three coaches and every one of them wanted to know how long I was gonna be there at the end of the season. Every recruit wanted to know how long you’re gonna be here.

“When you’re 72 years old, it’s hard to say, ‘I’m gonna be here for the next four years.’ But the question I had for a lot of people is, ‘How long are you gonna be here?’”

Saban previously opened up about his retirement in March.

For Saban, he was seemingly taken aback by his players’ reaction to the 27-20 loss to Michigan in the College Football Playoff — both in the immediate aftermath and when the team returned to Tuscaloosa, according to ESPN.

“I want to be clear that wasn’t the reason, but some of those events certainly contributed,” he told ESPN of his decision to retire from the sport. “I was really disappointed in the way that the players acted after the game. You gotta win with class. You gotta lose with class. 

Nick Saban arrives at the SEC Championship

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban walks onto the field before the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 2, 2023. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

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“We had our opportunities to win the game, and we didn’t do it, and then showing you’re a– and being frustrated and throwing helmets and doing that stuff… that’s not who we are and what we’ve promoted in our program.”

Saban said he believed his messaging was not coming across. He said players were asking for “assurances” they were definitely going to play and “how much are you going to pay me?” Saban said the program was intended to build on the players’ futures and possible NFL careers.

So I’m saying to myself, ‘Maybe this doesn’t work anymore, that the goals and aspirations are just different and that it’s all about how much money can I make as a college player?’” Saban added.

“I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that’s never been what we were all about, and it’s not why we had success through the years.”

Nick Saban coaches up his team

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban looks on before the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 2, 2023. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

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Kalen DeBoer was named Saban’s successor. He led the Washington Huskies to the national championship, but the team lost to Michigan.

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