Evaluating the wider impact of Nick Saban's retirement on college football's wild 2024 offseason

On3 imageby:Kaiden Smith02/27/24


Pete Nakos Evaluating The Wider Impact Of Nick Saban's Retirement On College Football's Wild 2024 Offseason | 02.27.24

The 2024 college football offseason has had no shortage of storylines, and it’s not even the month of March yet.

From the unpredictable coaching carousel to lawsuits against the NCAA, there’s seemingly been an endless amount of topics to discuss surrounding the sport. But none top the unexpected retirement of Alabama head coach Nick Saban following his prolific and unprecedented career.

On3’s Andy Staples and Pete Nakos recently drafted the wildest storylines of the college football offseason, breaking down why Saban’s retirement is the top story in numerous ways.

“You have to go with Nick Saban,” Nakos said. “Nick Saban retiring from Alabama is by far the biggest news story of this cycle, what he’s accomplished in Tuscaloosa we may never see again in college football. And I think beyond the implications of him leaving Alabama, you also have to look at what it did to the college football landscape entering the 2024 season.”

On paper alone Saban’s retirement is a momentous event. Stepping away from the game following 28 seasons as a college head coach (17 with Alabama) with a resume that many regard as the greatest of all time following seven national championship wins and 11 SEC titles.

But the ripple effect that Saban’s retirement had on the entire college football landscape only adds to it being this offseason’s headliner.

“Right now you have a new head coach at Washington, at Arizona, Kalen DeBoer is all of a sudden is in Tuscaloosa and is expected to get the Tide back to winning SEC title games. By far to me that is the biggest story this offseason,” Nakos said.

“I’m with you, that’s the one I would’ve picked too, and that one the butterfly effect just mushroomed,” Staples said in agreement. “I mean Ken Niumatalolo got the San Jose State job as a result of that. You had the Caleb Downs transfer, you had the Kadyn Proctor transfer.”

Saban’s retirement set off an remarkable chain reaction of not just head coach and coaching staff movement across college football, but player movement as well with 28 Alabama players entering the transfer portal as a result.

But Staples believes the door now being more open than ever in the SEC following Saban’s historic run of dominance in the conference is another key residual effect of his retirement. Leaving the league after boasting a 201–29 overall record and a 117–18 record in conference play as Alabama’s head coach.

“How many coaches has Nick Saban gotten fired in the SEC? Now will people be able to keep their jobs longer?” Staples asked. “I don’t know, maybe Kirby Smart just gets everybody fired now. I spent so many years. every offseason in the mailbag you get question. Well what happens after Nick Saban retires? And it was like well if you’re LSU or Texas A&M, think about it, Mississippi State they beat Saban’s team in 2007 and they haven’t beaten him since. I don’t think Arkansas ever beat Saban.”

There’s no doubt that there are now more wins to be had in the SEC following Saban’s exit from the league, but there’s also more question marks than ever surrounding the Crimson Tide following their storied run of dominance.

Importance of the spring transfer portal window for Alabama

Expectations are hard definitely to gauge in Tuscaloosa heading into the 2024 season, but Nakos believes there’s still work to be done for the Crimson Tide and their new head coach Kalen DeBoer.

“I think this 2024 season at Alabama’s gonna be defined by the two-week period in April with the transfer portal. Because while you are correct that they still have a very talented roster, there’s a few aspects of that roster that really have some holes that need filled that are gonna have to be addressed,” Nakos said,

There’s no doubt that the Alabama program, the SEC, and the college football landscape as a whole has already changed in a seismic way following Saban’s retirement. And it will be interesting to see the enduring effects of his decision continue to unfold throughout this year and beyond moving forward.