BUFFS

Deion Sanders reacts to Nick Saban’s shocking retirement

Jan 10, 2024, 4:06 PM

One of the greatest coaches in college football history is retiring, according to ESPN’s Chris Low. Alabama Crimson Tide leader Nick Saban, 72, is putting down his whistle.

Alabama lost what we now know was Saban’s final game 10 days ago, the 2023 College Football Playoff semifinal against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Saban’s seven titles, one at LSU and six from 2009 to 2020 at Bama, tie legendary Tide coach Bear Bryant for the most all-time. He is still the only coach since the AP Top 25 became a thing in 1936 to win national titles at two separate FBS schools. Saban coached four Heisman Trophy winners at Bama and won 292 games over his coaching career, which is 15th most among coaches in college football history. His legend for turning around Alabama and making both the school and the SEC a powerhouse is a big part of his legacy.

Oddly enough, Saban’s turnaround at Bama began with a run-in with Colorado—where he beat the Buffaloes in the 2007 Independence Bowl. Because of his greatness, he also has had a big impact at Colorado. The Buffaloes were one of many programs to hire away one of Saban’s assistants. This happened when Colorado hired Mel Tucker, which bizarrely has led them to current coach Deion Sanders.

Coach Prime and Saban are actually quite close and one of the greatest football players of all time had a message for one of its greatest coaches. Sanders wrote on Twitter on Wednesday in a bit of shock:

Sanders and Saban co-starred in an insurance commercial this fall and have had conversations at sport-wide events.

“I love and I adore and I respect and every time I do a commercial with Coach Saban, it’s a gift. Just sitting in his presence and hearing him and– and throwing something else out there so I can hear his viewpoint on it,” Sanders said last year. “Because he’s forgotten more things than I may ever accomplish. So I’m a student looking up to this wonderful teacher saying, ‘Just– just– just throw me a crumb of what you know.’”

Meanwhile, Saban threw praise back, first off mentioning the marketing of Colorado’s brand.

In Sanders’ tweet, he says the GOAT got chased away. More in the world of college football has changed in the last three years than did in the previous 25. With the introduction of NIL and the transfer portal, the sport has been radically changed and few have been better at these new aspects than Sanders. There’s little doubt that NIL and the portal have actually evened the playing field a bit and behemoths like Alabama have seen their depth decrease. Aside from that, these new rules have made the coach’s job more complicated and even more of an annual commitment.

We won’t know how much these things have impacted Saban’s decision until he speaks on it but it seems fairly evident Alabama has taken a step back in recent years.

Without reading too much into the Twitter message, it is cool to see how much Sanders respects the sport, its history and its greatest figures—something that often comes across from his deep passion for football.

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