By Stephen Smoot
This is the time of year where everyone places their focus on football. Michigan just won the National Championship after pounding Washington. Most fans felt the Wolverines had the title in the bag after edging Alabama in the opening game of the playoffs in overtime.
The Crimson Tide played its worst game since the season opening loss to Texas and the setback ended up costing the storied program more than just a chance at a 17th national title.
Legendary football coach Nick Saban announced his retirement shortly after the culmination of the campaign, ending his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Saban roamed the sidelines from 2007 to 2023, winning six national championships in his 17 years as the main man. The best part of the Saban story are his roots in the Mountain State and Harrison County in particular.
Saban grew up in Monongah, which is eight miles from Shinnston. Even if he was just an average coach, it would be hard not to root for him. Add in the fact that he is arguably the greatest coach of all time and it is obvious why he is a fan favorite among locals.
The fifty dollar question is why did Coach Saban choose to retire now. He is 73 years young and appears to be in great shape. He still is very competitive and appeared to have the desire to compete. Saban is the type of coach that could be envisioned going out on top, retiring after hoisting another championship trophy.
Some speculate that all of the changes in college football have pushed his frustration level to the point of no return. NIL dea;s and the transfer portal have really changed how to bring players into a program and how they are coached.
A few examples are Shedeur Sanders (Colorado), Arch Manning (Texas), and Caleb Williams, (University of Southern California.) The endorsement deals for these three college football players are rather impressive. Sanders pulls in $4.5 million, Manning hauls in 2.8 million, and Williams nets $2.8 million.
It’s hard to coach players that young who make so much cash. Money has always been the major motivator and players would work hard in college to receive their payday in the NFL. Getting paid early decreases the motivation and lessens the work etHIC.
Saban has always been an “early to rise, late to bed” coach that would always outwork his counterparts. In order to be successful, he needs the same type of effort from his players. He is also an old school coach and if you don’t do your job, you are going to get an ear full. The transfer portal allows players to depart a program any time for any reason, which forces coaches to become more like baby sitters and less like leaders.
Saban is a leader of men and a builder of character. Respect, values, and integrity are important to him and he wanted his players to learn the keys of winning both on and off the field. He will be missed not only at Alabama, but throughout college football as a whole.