This week, University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, agreed to a $93.6 million contract extension that extends through February 2030. He will earn $11.7 million per season.
Not only does Saban’s agreement surpass Kirby Smart’s $11.2 million per year contract at Georgia, but it also includes a clause stating Saban’s guaranteed compensation can be revisited if his contract is less than the three highest paid SEC coaches or the top five coaches nationally.
The funny part is, Saban is worth way more than that to Alabama. Since his teams started this incredible run, out-of-state enrollment has shot through the roof and there is no telling how much money he has made the University as a result. Do I believe Saban will coach through the end of this contract until he’s 78? No. But you have to pay the greatest coach ever the most because that is the nature of the college football arms race.
For other coaches and programs, this isn’t the greatest news – because I don’t see Saban losing his effectiveness any time soon. It’s amazing what a couple Little Debbies and coffee can do for a person. I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of this, he was blended with a robot and the ‘Sabantron 3000’ roamed the sidelines until a meteor hits.
This also means that another group of young or troubled coaches will be able to catapult or resurrect their careers under Saban’s tutelage. Despite all the money that gets talked about and all the championships he has won, neither will be the biggest part of his legacy. He has helped so many coaches find success, get the blueprint and thrive in a cutthroat business. He has mentored thousands of young men on how to work to find success and changed countless family trajectories. Football is one of the greatest teachers of life, and Saban is basically Gandalf.
The numbers Saban has accumulated up to this point in his college head coaching career are eye-popping. He has won 7 national championships, 10 SEC championships, and numerous Coach of the Year awards. His overall regular season record is 274-67-1, 18-11 in bowl games, and a dominant 9-4 in college football playoffs.
There is not just one reason Coach Saban has been able to attain Mount Rushmore status among college football coaches, but if I had to pick one key factor contributing to his success, it would be his malleability. The hardest part about staying on top is being able to change with the times.
As with many other aspects of life, football continues to change almost yearly. When offenses started to find ways to create havoc by using a faster pace of play, Saban knew he had to adjust his old-school style of play to keep his advantage. Gone were the days of his bland, run to pass and don’t screw it up offensively method and in came the day of going fast and taking chances. Similarly, when the transfer portal and new rules around athletes’ name, image and likeness (NIL) burst into college football, Saban embraced something he disagreed with and even led the way on how to adapt.
Most people who find a recipe to make it to the top struggle to change or adjust – like Red Beaulieu and the green notebook in “The Waterboy” – but if you aren’t evolving, you are dissolving.
Saban has been able to zero in on a moving target, and that is why his success level hasn’t dissipated over the course of time. While it does take a big ego to be Nick Saban, too much ego can destroy even him; because just when you think you have all the answers, you are destined to be wrong.
How many more titles will Saban win? The smart money is a couple, but in the grand scheme of things, he’s already won.
Jake Crain is co-host of “Crain & Company.” the Daily Wire’s sports show, also featuring co-hosts Blain Crain and David Cone.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.