Nick Saban is 66 years old and a good bit older than some of his top competitors, such as Dabo Swinney (48), Kirby Smart (42) and Lincoln Riley (34). But that doesn’t mean the legendary Alabama coach is close to retiring.
Saban, who is coming off his fifth national championship in nine seasons at Alabama, emphatically put down any idea of him stepping away anytime soon.
“That’s what everybody keeps saying, that I’m not going to be doing this for much longer, and all the people who say it have no idea what I’m going to do,” Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low. “I’ve been involved in some fashion with football and being a part of a football team ever since I can remember. I don’t know what it would be like not doing it, and don’t want to know.”
Another legendary SEC coach who recently retired, Steve Spurrier, also spoke with Low about how much longer Saban could end up coaching. The former Florida and South Carolina coach sees Saban coaching in Tuscaloosa for several more years.
“Nick ain’t thinking about retiring, not even close,” Spurrier said. “He can go into his 70s easy, and I think he will.”
Spurrier retired when he was 70. But South Carolina clearly had started to slide, as the Gamecocks went 7-6 in his final full season and got off to a 2-4 start in 2015 before he stepped away. He also offered up this gem of a quote.
“I told him he won’t retire until he loses three games in a season. He told me, ‘If I ever lose three games around here again, they might kill me.’ I think he was joking, but I’m not sure.”
Alabama has lost three games in a season once since Saban took over, and that was in 2010. In the last three seasons, Saban has lost a total of three times while racking up 41 wins and two national titles.
Saban is hardly the first coach to coach into his late 60s and possible 70s. Joe Paterno of Penn State and Bobby Bowden of Florida State coached into their 80s.
The Crimson Tide are getting ready to open spring practice. They will open the 2018 season against Louisville on Sept. 1 in Orlando, Fla. Alabama likely will be ranked No. 1 or No. 2 to open the season. And Saban is as focused as ever on winning another title.
“I don’t base being successful on what the standard is on the outside,” Saban said. “I agree that the expectation is that we have to win the national championship every year. That’s what it’s become here. But I don’t think having a good program necessarily is totally relevant to how many national championships you win.”