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Matt's Monday Morning Musings: SO, LET'S SAY SABAN RETIRES...

Bowl games this, FSU that.

Let's address the crimson elephant in the room in Matt's Monday Morning Musing.

Retirement rumors have followed Saban since 2015 it feels like, but only as a recruiting tactic by rival coaches who need a reason to get kids not to commit to the GOAT of college football. It was a waste of time speculating on them, so no one ever took them seriously, especially when he kept winning titles without his protégé Kirby Smart by his side. The only two times I can think of Nick Saban leaving Alabama were....

2013 - Nick Saban declined a Jimbo Fisher-sized contract to leave Alabama for Texas (or they declined to interview him because the president at the time couldn't stand him, way too many rumors)

2017 - Nick Saban was (again) connected to the New York Giants opening after Ben McAdoo was fired.

But other than that, it's all been the stuff of nonsense, mixed with disgruntled fans of Auburn, Tennessee, and anyone who had to face him in the National Championship game starting message board rumors to get some wishful thinking off their chest. The king of college football would leave when he wanted to, and clearly, age was never going to slow him down.

And then, he watched his protégé take the Alabama mindset to Athens where Georgia won back-to-back titles, with one being against Saban himself.

Then, his streak of beating his former assistants came to an end (Jimbo Fisher, Kirby Smart, and Steve Sarkisian).

Then he had to recruit his players to stay at Alabama thanks to the transfer portal.

Then he had to outbid other schools for top recruits.

Then the playoff expanded, which gave a lot of teams Alabama wouldn't want to face a chance to compete for the title.

And finally, out of left field, he bought a $70 million mansion in Jupiter, Florida. The same retirement community as other big-name stars no longer in the game like Tom Brady... This has since prompted the question everyone has been asking since the start of the season -

"Is this finally it?"

After two decades of dominance, a boatload of NFL draft picks produced, four Heisman winners, and six national titles, Nick Saban has absolutely nothing left to prove. However, all good things MUST come to an end, and eventually, the legend will have to retire someday (or die on the field after Alabama misses another easy field goal). If there was ever a year that I would believe he was done, it would be this year. He's remained critical of NIL and the transfer portal (that he still uses to a T) and everyone I know within the Tide program says the same thing, "He's tired."

I would be too. I love football, but if I'm still working at 72 then I have done something wrong. He wants to retire a winner, and all the pieces are in place for him to go out after winning another national championship this year if they can defeat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

I'm not saying I believe it, but I wouldn't be shocked if he did. You shouldn't either.

But we're not here for the "is he, isn't he" question. My question is this

Who does Alabama even hire next?

How do you even begin to follow an act like Saban's?

I've seen too much speculation about whether he's going to leave and not enough of a solid coaching list to take over if he does. Does Alabama have no clue how to follow him up too? Doubtful, but the problem is their main target is currently enjoying his dynasty in Georgia. Kirby Smart would get a phone call, but you can't tell me that he would leave his Alma Mater for his old job.

Three or four years ago, the answer was Dabo Swinney, but a couple of lackluster seasons (including this year's 8-4 stinker) have people wondering if he's more of a twice-lucky coach and not a sustainable program builder.

You can't look me in the eye and tell me Alabama would go the Bob Stoops to Lincoln Riley route and hand the keys to the Alabama Corvette to Kevin Steele or Tommy Rees.

In fact, the list gets shorter every year he adds to the Alabama trophy case because who would even want that kind of pressure? It would take a daredevil who also happens to be a sexy name to please the fanbase to try to live up to Saban's legend.

There would have to be some kind of swagger to him, and probably someone different from who Saban was altogether. Younger, offensive-minded, and has a Twitter.

At the end of the day, only two coaches who check mark some or all of those boxes would be my best guess for the next Alabama coach, should he pull the trigger on his retirement.


I know, the Kiffin one is obvious because of his time at Alabama when he rejuvenated the offense, but would he want to be the one who tried to follow the legend's footsteps, failed, and then got fired? After all, better to be the guy who follows the guy after the guy. Kiffin has never stayed at a program long, but at Alabama, he could have plenty of success if the fans didn't expect a national title every year. They will, so when he drops a game here or there who knows how long he'll last.

Then there's Dan. Oregon has unfortunately failed to pay their coaches like it's a destination job, so it wouldn't be surprising to see an SEC team try to bring some of that defensive swagger he learned from Kirby back to the South. After winning 21 games in his first two seasons with the Ducks, it's easy to see why everyone expects big things from the young 30-something-year-old commodity.

However, who would say yes? Where does Alabama go when the inevitable happens?

Let me know in the comments.


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