April 16, 2024

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Nick Saban: The way Alabama players reacted after the Rose Bowl loss “contributed” to the decision to retire

Nick Saban: The way Alabama players reacted after the Rose Bowl loss “contributed” to the decision to retire

The Rose Bowl ended up being Nick Saban's last game at Alabama. (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Images/Getty Images)

Nick Saban wasn't happy with the way his team responded to the Rose Bowl loss.

Alabama lost 27-20 to eventual national champion Michigan in the College Football Playoff on January 1. The overtime loss came after a fourth-round stoppage of Jalen Milroe at the line of scrimmage. Milroe raced toward the end zone after a low snap on what appeared to be a designed run/pass option.

The game turned out to be the last of Saban's career as he shocked the college football world by announcing his retirement less than two weeks later. In a story that chronicles his decision-making process to retire and his subsequent search for coaching at Alabama, Saban told ESPN The way some players on his team behaved immediately after the loss and in the following days “contributed” to his decision to suspend her after the 2023 season.

From ESPN:

“I want to make it clear that this was not the reason, but some of those events certainly contributed,” Saban said of his decision to retire. “I was really disappointed with the way the players behaved after the game. You have to win the level. You have to lose the level. We had chances to win the game and we didn't do that, and then you show your ass and get frustrated and throw helmets and do these things… that's not the game.” Us and what we promoted in our program.

Saban also talked about how the way the college football landscape is changing influenced his decision. He estimated that “probably 70 or 80% of the players you talk to” want to know when they'll play for next season and how much money they'll make in nothing.

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Saban retired as the most successful coach in modern college football history. His teams won seven national titles — including six at Alabama — and he turned the Crimson Tide into a machine in the College Football Playoff era. Over 10 years of four-team playoffs, Alabama has reached the postseason eight times. No other team has managed to achieve this more than six times.

But Saban's retirement was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. He has been contemplating the end of his career for some time. Saban told Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne at the end of the 2022 season that retirement is getting closer and closer.

“Greg, it's getting more difficult for me,” Saban told Byrne. “I'm not ready to do that now, but we'll have to start evaluating this more on an annual basis.”

Alabama moved quickly to secure Saban's replacement following his retirement. The Crimson Tide hired former Washington coach Calen DeBoer to succeed Saban after DeBoer led Washington to its second playoff appearance and first CFP national title game. Saban's retirement was part of a busy college football season that included Michigan's Jim Harbaugh heading to the NFL and UCLA's Chip Kelly heading to Ohio State to become the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator.

Meanwhile, Saban will still be a major presence in college football. He is set to become an analyst for ESPN in 2024 after serving as a guest analyst in recent years when his schedule allowed.