1709737772 Nick Saban The way Alabama players reacted after the Rose

Nick Saban: The way Alabama players reacted after the Rose Bowl loss “contributed” to the decision to retire

PASADENA, CA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide during media day at the Rose Bowl on December 30, 2023 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The Rose Bowl ended up being Nick Saban's final game at Alabama. (Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Nick Saban wasn't thrilled with the way his team responded to the Rose Bowl loss.

Alabama lost 27-20 to eventual national champion Michigan in the College Football Playoff on January 1st. The overtime loss came after Jalen Milroe's fourth down run was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Milroe charged toward the end zone after taking a low snap on what appeared to be a planned run/pass option.

The game proved to be the last of Saban's career, as he shocked the college football world by announcing his retirement less than two weeks later. In a story about his decision-making process to retire and the ensuing coaching search at Alabama, Saban told ESPN how some of his team's players acted in the immediate aftermath of the loss and “contributed” to his decision in the days that followed to move forward in 2023 to stop season.

From ESPN:

“I want to be clear that wasn't the reason, but some of these events certainly contributed to it,” Saban said of his decision to retire. “I was really disappointed with the way the players behaved after the game. You have to win with class. You have to lose with class. We had our chances to win the game and we didn't, and then you showed your ass and “being frustrated, throwing helmets and doing stuff like that… that's not who we are and what.” we promoted in our program.”

Saban also talked about how the way the college football landscape is changing influenced his decision. He estimated that “maybe 70 or 80% of the players you talk to” want to know about their playing time next season and how much they would make with zero money.

Saban retired as the winningest coach in modern college football history. His teams won seven national titles – including six at Alabama – and he transformed the Crimson Tide into a machine in the College Football Playoff era. In the ten years that the four-team playoffs were held, Alabama reached the postseason eight times. No other team did it more than six times.

However, Saban's resignation was not a spontaneous decision. He had been thinking about ending his career for a while. Saban told Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne at the end of the 2022 season that retirement was getting closer.

“Greg, this is getting harder and harder for me,” Saban told Byrne. “I’m not ready to do that yet, but we need to start assessing this more closely from year to year.”

Alabama moved quickly to secure Saban's replacement following his retirement. The Crimson Tide hired former Washington coach Kalen DeBoer to replace Saban after DeBoer led Washington to its second playoff appearance and its first CFP national title game. Saban's retirement was part of a busy college football offseason that saw Jim Harbaugh leave Michigan for the NFL and Chip Kelly leave UCLA for Ohio State to become the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator.

Meanwhile, Saban will continue to have a significant presence in college football. He is scheduled to serve as an analyst for ESPN in 2024 after serving as a guest analyst when his schedule permitted in recent years.