You don’t know many bigger Alabama fans than me. I will own that. I suffered through multiple losing seasons while I was in college, so I have definitely enjoyed every second of the Saban era in Tuscaloosa.
Between the time I started following the school’s football team (let’s say 1988 when I was 7) and when I graduated from college (2003), Bama won a total of two SEC titles, one national championship and no Heisman Trophies. Since Nick Saban arrived, the Crimson Tide have won eight SEC championships, six national championships and four Heisman Trophies.
The man has nothing left to prove to anyone. Let people question his ability to compete in the portal and NIL era. Let them have their jokes about his two seasons in the NFL. Anyone making the argument that the discussion of the best college football coach in history doesn’t begin and end with him is not someone to be taken seriously.
Saban has spoken before about being driven by the idea that he could return to the poverty he grew up around in West Virginia at any moment. At 72 years old though, I think he is finally comfortable admitting that he probably isn’t going to outlive the contents of a bank account stacked with a literal decade’s worth of eight-figure paychecks. That is why I think Nick Saban is in his final year as the head coach at the University of Alabama.
This isn’t a sports site. It is a sports media site, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to write about this for BSM if it did not have a sports media tie-in. So, here it is. I think Nick Saban will still be around college football next year, but it will be as the newest member of the cast of ESPN’s College GameDay.
Look, I grew up in Alabama and went to the University of Alabama. I have thought about this a lot. If you want the unhinged, “Q is sending us messages on the pause screens of Amazon Fire Sticks” version, text me. JB will only let me to do the cliff’s notes here.
The non-media-related reasons I believe this is Nick Saban’s final season are brief. First, he went to Europe earlier this year and seems to have comeback a changed man. It’s almost as if he discovered there is a whole life he didn’t get to live. Second, he bought a home in Jupiter Island, FL for $17.5 million. For someone that has been manical about staying close to Tuscaloosa should he need to get back in the past, dropping nearly $18 million for a home near West Palm Beach feels significant.
The media-related reasons don’t just explain why I believe Nick Saban is retiring, but also why I think he is headed for College GameDay. I say this as someone that likes both Saban and Pat McAfee: I don’t think Nick Saban agrees to put up with Pat McAfee every week if there isn’t a larger goal.
You can tell me that it is just another opportunity to get in front of the age group he is trying to convince to come play for him, but that can be accomplished with a visit or two. Weekly appearances make me think something more is at play, like the goal isn’t just to be on McAfee’s show, but to build chemistry with him.
Saban’s interest in College GameDay is well-known. In his 2022 book The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban, author John Talty revealed that in 2013, Saban set up a meeting with then-ESPN VP of Production John Wildhack to talk about life after coaching.
“If he wasn’t interested, he never would have done it in the first place,” Wildhack told Talty. “But I also didn’t think he was ready to step aside as being a coach.”
That was ten years and three national championships ago. Talty wrote that Saban had “zeroed in” on College GameDay as the right fit for him at ESPN. My guess is time and success have filled whatever hole drove him back to Tuscaloosa after that meeting.
This isn’t all just reading between the lines and deeming things “evidence” that may be meaningless. It also has to be said that Nick Saban would be dynamite on College GameDay.
Why has he enjoyed previously unknown success as a coach? He not only knows the game better than most, he is an elite teacher. Look at this clip from his coach’s show, where he explains how Alabama blocked a punt last week against Ole Miss.
Nick Saban is a nerd. He cannot hide his excitement to teach the audience how this play works. He gives detail without getting boring. He has a great sense of humor about a drive that started on Ole Miss’s 1 yard line and ended with Alabama kicking a field goal from the 23.
Saban isn’t washed, but he seems ready. That is good for ESPN, because College GameDay is certainly ready. I am not the first to say that it may be time to gently usher Lee Corso along and I am not the first to say that he is a legend who should get to decide for himself when he is done, but ESPN may see an opportunity to add unmatched star power and find a new coach for the show without cutting ties with Corso completely. I can’t imagine Nick Saban is eager to put on mascot heads each week.
ESPN would also get a leg up on Big Noon Kickoff by playing FOX’s game better than FOX. When that network launched its college football pregame show, one of the messages it wanted to get out to the media and fans was that the BNK panel had more and more recent national championships and Heisman Trophy wins than College GameDay.
Between Matt Leinart, Mark Ingram II and Urban Meyer, there are two Heismans and six national titles on Big Noon Kickoff. If we count Tebow’s Heisman for Meyer, that is three Heismans. Nick Saban outdoes the entire FOX panel on his own. Plus, he has a better relationship with Deion Sanders. That would sting for FOX.
Nick Saban is a competitor. It is hard to imagine him not wanting to compete until the day he dies. He told Pat McAfee last month that he is still having fun coaching and he laughs every time he has heard retirement rumors in the last decade. I never heard him say that he will definitely be Alabama’s football coach in 2024.
I don’t think Nick Saban regrets not retiring and leaving Tuscaloosa with Bryce Young and Will Anderson, but I think he knows that it’s no longer a given that every player of that calibre wants to wear crimson. He’s going to be 72 at the end of the month. Why wouldn’t enjoying the spoils of his success be more appealing at this point than trying to find the next Bama legends?
I think Saban’s coaching days are winding down, but I think ESPN has a plan to keep the greatest football coach at any level close to the sport.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at [email protected].
Shan Shariff: FS1 Has the Worst NFL Analysts
He noted that Skip Bayless, Craig Carton, and LeSean McCoy were the “dumbest” analysts for FS1.
FS1 has assembled a wide-ranging cast of former NFL players and pundits throughout its analyst, panelist, and host roles. That doesn’t mean they have earned the respect of 105.3 The Fan’s Shan Shariff.
During the Dallas morning show Tuesday, Shariff shared that in a recent interview with Awful Announcing, he named the three “dumbest” analysts when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. He noted that Skip Bayless is the worst offender, while Craig Carton is third on his list behind LeSean McCoy. All three work for FS1.
A recent statement from McCoy caught the particular ire of Shariff, for arguing that Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, despite playing well recently and being viewed as an NFL MVP candidate, needs to play worse to see how he’ll respond to the adversity.
“I wanna see when he messes and how he responds,” McCoy said.
“I honestly think — I don’t know if he’s a clown or if he’s just not intelligent…he made zero sense,” Shariff said. “Everyone else on set was looking at him like ‘You want him to be worse and mess up so he can respond to that in order to get more MVP consideration?'”
“If he had said ‘I need to see Dak play well against good teams’, that’s a totally valid statement,” co-host RJ Choppy said. “This makes no sense.”
Shariff then brought up a recent statement from FS1’s Joy Taylor that argued Prescott can’t win the MVP due to his on-field play.
“This is like a two-and-a-half-minute clip. I don’t have the patience for or the tolerance for that,” Shariff said.
Co-host Bobby Belt responded by saying “She’s clearly on TV because of her football opinions,” which led Shan Shariff to say “Yeah, Thanks, Jason Taylor,” the older brother of Joy Taylor, who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a 13-year NFL career.
ESPN 1400 Coming to KGVL in Greenville, Texas
Greenville, Texas is 50 miles northeast of Dallas.
KGVL in Greenville, Texas is preparing to flip formats from oldies to sports radio with ESPN 1400 set to debut after Christmas.
After it wraps up airing Christmas music, the station will permanently air a sports format with ESPN Radio.
“While we have enjoyed bringing you classic hits for the last few years, we have an opportunity to bring something to Northeast Texas that we can’t pass up!,” a post to the station’s Facebook stage said. “Starting after the Holidays, we will become ESPN 1400! Not only will we bring you non-stop sports, but we will also carry LIVE sports like college football, NFL, NBA, MLB, and even CFP Bowl Games!”
Greenville, Texas is 50 miles northeast of Dallas. KGVL is a Class C, 1,000 watt station owned by E Radio Network. The station covers the majority of Dallas and the eastern portion of the Metroplex. It can also be heard on FM translators on 105.9 FM and 107.7 FM.
The news was first reported by RadioInsight.
Scott Van Pelt: ‘Say Yes Until You Earn the Right to Say No’
“You put as much on your plate; be a good earner for your employer…”
On Monday afternoon, the New York Jets made headlines when Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported that quarterback Zach Wilson was reluctant to reassume the starting role when asked by the team. Shortly after the report was promulgated, ESPN New York afternoon program, The Michael Kay Show, welcomed ESPN SportsCenter and Monday Night Countdown host Scott Van Pelt for his weekly appearance on the show. When he was asked about the Wilson situation, he compared it to how those in the sports media business interact with management and earn credibility and prestige.
“Peter, you wear a lot of hats man,” Van Pelt said, addressing co-host Peter Rosenberg. “Your boss says, ‘Hey, we need you to come in and do this, that or the other.’ I always say to people in any business, ‘Say yes until you earn the right to say no.’ You put as much on your plate; be a good earner for your employer; and then at some point maybe you earn the right to say, ‘Listen, I’d rather not do this, but I’ve got you on all these other things.”
Show co-host Michael Kay hypothesized a scenario in which Van Pelt would tell ESPN management that he did not want to host Monday Night Countdown because of the injury to Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Joe Burrow. For Scott Van Pelt though, he understands the position he is in and how there are other people that look at him with a sense of envy.
“This is where you could point out, ‘How many people would kill to do this?,’ and that’s what we hear in our business [is] ‘You know how many people would kill to do this?,’” Van Pelt said. “Of course, and we get all that, and we’re lucky people – all of us – we’re in the get-to job, not got-to.”
Scott Van Pelt brought up how there are likely listeners who work extremely hard and would be aghast and perplexed if they heard someone in sports media talking about how they did not want to go to work. Moreover, he referred to what Wilson reportedly said as “an indefensible position” as the segment concluded.
Earlier in the segment, Kay called it “bizarre” that the discussion was even being had about Wilson not wanting to return to the starting quarterback job after being relegated from the role two weeks ago. Co-host Don La Greca also added his perspective into the situation, addressing Kay about how he goes about his work as the play-by-play voice of the New York Yankees and working in other roles.
“Michael, you know in your life there’s probably lots of times you’d love to tell your boss, ‘Are you kidding me?,’” La Greca said, “but you still say ‘Yes’ because it’s your boss.”