Nick Saban Says Retirement Had Nothing To Do With NIL

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Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 01: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines during the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 01, 2024 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Everyone from pundits to Deion Sanders theroized that Saban felt forced out by NIL.

Nick Saban has denied speculation that his retirement was due to the evolving world of compensation for college athletes. "Don't make it about that. It's not about that. To me, if you choose to coach, you don't need to be complaining about all that stuff. You need to adjust to it and adapt to it and do the best you can under the circumstances and not complain about it," Saban told ESPN. While Saban had previously expressed doubts about NIL, namely that is could create a "pay to play" system, he also acknowledged that it was the future of college athletes.

However, that didn't stop people pointing the finger of blame at the system for Saban's departure. Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, a vocal opponent of NIL, openly suggested that Saban had retired due to NIL rules in a tweet reacting to the news. As for Saban's replacement, frontrunner Dan Lanning also already announced that he intends to stay and see out his contract with Oregon.

Nick Saban Retires

First reported by ESPN, Saban announced his retirement on January 10. Saban hung up his headset after 17 seasons with the Crimson Tide. Saban led Alabama to six national titles and finished the 2023 season with a Rose Bowl loss to eventual champions Michigan. Saban's coaching journey began all the way back in 1973 as a graduate assistant at Kent State. His first head coaching role was at Toledo in 1990. He would hold the same position at Michigan State, LSU, and the Miami Dolphins before coming to Alabama in 2007. He immediately turned around an ailing program, turning them into them into the powerhouse they are today.

Saban, who turned 72 last October, has previously been coy about retirement. I've always said that if you're thinking about retirement, you're probably already retired, and I'm not there yet," Saban told ESPN in November. Saban, who is yet to confirm his retirement, ends his career with a record of 292-71-1 in 28 total seasons as a college head coach. He has seven National championships, 12 conference titles, and 19 bowl game victories. Alabama are expected to remain a title contender in 2024.

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About The Author
Benjamin Mock (they/them) is a sports and culture writer working out of Philadelphia. Previously writing for the likes of Fixture, Dexerto, Fragster, and Jaxon, Ben has dedicated themselves to engaging and accessible articles about sports, esports, and internet culture. With a love for the weirder stories, you never quite know what to expect from their work.