By: John Dunn
Founder, Managing Editor, Producer, Host
The All Vol Call in Show
The news of Nick Saban's retirement came late Wednesday night. Citing age and health concerns, Nick Saban's illustrious career comes to an end with seven national championships, 11 conference titles, an overall record of 292-71-1, and a bevy of awards and other accolades. He will undoubtedly go down as the greatest college football coach of all time.
Now that Saban has decided to hang 'em up, what does this mean for college football? It means that the Tide is changing; pun completely intended.
College football is going to look vastly different next season; to the effect of when coach "K" retired from Duke. There are just certain coaches that are synonymous to the sport itself, and Saban is synonymous with both college football. The most notable differences will be seen within the SEC.
For Tennessee, the move couldn't have come at a better time. "But, why," you ask? There are multiple factors that could end up benefiting Tennessee in the long term, and could happen very soon.
It's no secret that the "hot button" issue in today's college football climate is the transfer portal. With a legendary coach passing the torch, there is a lot of uncertainty around the Alabama football team. I don't think anyone envies the person who follows in Saban's footsteps. Those are going to be big shoes to fill. That being said, you have to imagine that a lot of these players know that any school in the country would be clamoring for them to join the roster. They've had the best coaching, already experienced success, and will be able to bring some of their wisdom and experience in to bolster any roster.
"Good players want to play with good players." We hear it all the time. It just so happens that Tennessee has an extremely high-profile quarterback at the moment that players across the country are eager to get the chance to play with. Now having seen Nico Iamaleava in a full game, knowing he will have weapons surrounding him on the offense next season, this could be an incentive for some departing Alabama players that may want to jump aboard a fast-rising rocket.
A lot of college athletes dream of playing in massive stadiums with huge crowds, that's why may of them come to the SEC anyway; because "it just means more." At Alabama, players are blessed with some of the best facilities in the nation. It hasn't been long ago that the Tide fell to Tennessee in Knoxville. The atmosphere at that game was electric, and many players on the Alabama roster were there for that game. One has to believe that the scene of 100,000 fans rushing a cigar smoke-lit field while orange fireworks erupted in the background has to replay in their minds. For some, it may be a deterrent to ever even consider Tennessee, but for others, it may be an incentive to want to play in that type of high caliber atmosphere. Not to mention, Tennessee has some of the best facilities in the country, and they're about to get even nicer.
A NEW REGIME:
Although Saban was the one to announce his retirement, there will be a trickle-down effect. Whoever Alabama decides to go with as the next head coach will undoubtedly bring in his own coaching staff, leaving many Crimson Tide staffers needing jobs. Remaining in-conference may be important to some of the departing coaches who may be looking for landing spots. While the larger jobs are likely out of the question due to lack of current need, there could still be some quality control, player personnel assistants, or other athletic assistant that could help the Vols chalk up some wins this season from the sidelines.
"THEY" WILL LIKELY RETURN:
This is probably my least favorite "benefit" of Saban's retirement. In 1998 you couldn't have found an Alabama fan in the state of Tennessee; you could barely find them in Alabama. However, around 2008 or 2009, there was a dramatic spike in Alabama fandom. Simultaneously, there was a huge falling off of Tennessee fans. Coincidence? No, it isn't. A lot of current Alabama "fans" were Tennessee "fans" just years prior, and will likely make a return to the orange side. As it currently appears, Tennessee is on the rise. Now that Saban has announced his retirement, no one knows how Alabama will look and things are extremely uncertain. While I'm not a huge fan of the bandwagon turning around, it does mean two things: 1.) money. At least they'll be spending the money on Tennessee. which will help the program. 2.) Having to hear "Roll Tide" a lot less.
These are just a few of the reasons that Tennessee could immediately benefit from Saban's retirment. Of course, there is also the added benefit of not having to coach against a coach that is widely considered to be the greatest of all time.
Whether you loved or hated Saban, there is one thing that is undeniable: you'll never forget him.