Anyone hoping Alabama football coach Nick Saban will retire soon won’t like Lane Kiffin’s latest prediction.
“People always ask me when Nick Saban will retire,” the Ole Miss coach told Sports Illustrated. “Before, I said, ‘Not for a long time.’ He’s driven and he works like he’s 30. Now, it’ll be never. Why would he? You get the best players, have free agency to pluck the best players.
“He’ll be there forever. He might double his championships.”
Saban, 70, has coached 15 seasons at Alabama and is about to lead the Crimson Tide for a 16th season this fall.
Kiffin’s comments come about a week after Saban drew significant national attention, saying Texas A&M bought its entire recruiting class at an event promoting the World Games in Birmingham. Saban also mentioned Jackson State signing a player for $1 million and Miami (Fla.) basketball landing a player for $400,000.
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While some might view those words as Saban being concerned the dynasty could be in trouble, Kiffin takes a different viewpoint.
“If you’re Alabama, how does your gap not continue to widen?” Kiffin said. “If you have NIL, you can get the players. You were already signing No. 1 classes. Now there’s a money factor involved, and you have top resources for that and you have the portal so you are replacing. If you have holes anywhere with guys leaving, they’re just going to replace them. You see them doing it. Here’s the best players out there not playing at Alabama. They can come take these spots.”
The subject of Saban’s retirement pops up frequently, but the Alabama coach said he doesn’t understand why while he spoke at the Alabama Football Coaches Association clinic in January.
“Retire for what?” Saban said. “I’m going to jump into an empty abyss? Of what am I going to do? Because the very challenges I talk about and the things in our profession that concern me, for you and for me both in your game and our game, that’s what keeps me going. That’s why I get up every day. That’s why I can’t sleep at night sometimes. Why would you quit doing that?
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men’s basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelley