February 26, 2024

Nick Saban hired by ESPN: Why recently retired Alabama football coach is joining ‘College GameDay’


Nick Saban fanatics can quit asking what’s next for the recently retired head coach. 

The former Alabama football giant decided to call it quits at the conclusion of the 2023 season, putting an end to an illustrious coaching career that saw him lead the Crimson Tide to seven national championships in his 17 years with the program. 

For Alabama, the program wasted no time filling in the massive hole that Saban left, tabbing Kalen DeBoer to replace the longtime head coach at the helm of the program. DeBoer was responsible for helping Washington to a Pac-12 title and a national championship appearance this season. 

However, when it came to Saban, his future plans were unknown — until now. 

ESPN announced on Wednesday that Saban is joining the media company. He is expected to take on an analyst role, covering college football on a number of the platform’s shows. 

MORE: Why Nick Saban will always stand out among legendary college coaches

Why did Nick Saban join ESPN’s College GameDay?

Saban joins ESPN following his retirement from coaching. The 72-year-old had been coaching for 50 years, getting his start back in 1973. With his coaching career in the rearview, Saban is following in the footsteps of many of his colleagues by stepping into the media world.

ESPN said in a statement that the Alabama legend is expected to work primarily as an analyst on the set of “College GameDay,” ESPN’s weekly college football road show. After making several guest appearances on the show throughout the years, he will be traveling around with the crew that consists of host Rece Davis and analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and Pat McAfee

“ESPN and ‘College GameDay’ have played such an important role in the growth of college football, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join their team,” Saban said. “I’ll do my best to offer additional insights and perspectives to contribute to ‘College GameDay,’ the ultimate Saturday tradition for college football fans.”

In addition, Saban will also contribute to ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage and make appearances tied to SEC Media Days. 

“Nick Saban is a singular, iconic presence in college football,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said. “He is also an extremely gifted communicator, who will immediately add even more credibility, authority, and entertainment value to ESPN, including our esteemed ‘College GameDay’ show.”

MORE: Winners and losers from Nick Saban’s retirement

How much money is Nick Saban making at ESPN?

Terms of Saban’s contract with ESPN were not immediately released. ESPN and Saban are under no obligation to make his salary public, but often in the case of high-profile hires like this, it’s reasonable to expect a salary in the multi-million-dollar range. 

Why did Nick Saban retire?

In a way, Saban’s health played a role in his ultimate decision to step down from the Alabama program. While he has clarified that his health itself wasn’t the main issue, he felt that he could not be dedicated to the Crimson Tide if he was putting himself in a situation where he couldn’t “do things the way I want to do them.”

“It’s just about the grind of the season and the ability to sustain the energy all the way through the way I need to do it,” Saban said at the time of his retirement. 

Nick Saban puts to rest any speculation of family or health concerns driving his retirement decision:

“It’s just about the grind of the season and the ability to sustain the energy all the way through the way I need to do it.” pic.twitter.com/zb0EaFdz2F

— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) January 11, 2024

He felt as though it was unfair for him to make long-term commitments to the program when he was unsure about his future.

“I would have been happy to try to do, but I just didn’t feel like I could do that and didn’t want to get into a year-to-year deal that doesn’t help anybody and doesn’t help you continue to build and be at the standard that I want to be at and want this program to be at,” Saban said.





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