TUSCALOOSA, AL. (Diya TV) — In a surprising turn of events, college football icon Nick Saban, renowned for his seven national championships and transformative role at the University of Alabama, has officially declared his retirement after an illustrious 17-season tenure in Tuscaloosa.

Saban, 72, made the announcement following Alabama’s recent season, concluding with a loss to Michigan in the Rose Bowl. During his unparalleled coaching career, Saban achieved a remarkable 201 wins, tying with Vince Dooley for the second-most victories at a single SEC school, just behind Bear Bryant.

“Alabama has been a very special place to Terry and me,” Saban expressed in a statement. “We always tried to do it the right way—helping players create more value for their future and fostering success on and off the field. Hopefully, we have done that, and we will always consider Alabama our home.”

The unexpected timing of Saban’s retirement, coming after his recent contract extension through February 2030, has left the football community in surprise. Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne acknowledged Saban’s unparalleled impact, stating, “Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport. While his time as our coach may have come to an end, his legacy will live on forever.”

Saban’s decision to step down was rooted in a 4 p.m. meeting with his players, where he cited age and health concerns. In an interview with ESPN, Saban clarified that while last season was challenging from a health standpoint, he wanted to ensure that he left at a time when he could no longer sustain the coaching standards he had set for himself.

“Last season was difficult for me from just a health standpoint, not necessarily having anything major wrong, but just being able to sustain and do things the way I want to do them, the way I’ve always done them,” Saban explained. “It just got a little bit harder. So you have to decide, ‘OK, this is sort of inevitable when you get to my age.'”

Contrary to speculation, Saban firmly denied that changes in college football, such as NIL (Name, Image, Likeness), played a role in his decision. “Don’t make it about that. It’s not about that,” Saban asserted. “To me, if you choose to coach, you don’t need to be complaining about all that stuff. You need to adjust to it and adapt to it and do the best you can under the circumstances and not complain about it.”

As the search for Saban’s successor begins, Byrne emphasized the goal of finding a coach strong in recruiting, player development, and leadership. The announcement has shifted Alabama’s odds in the 2024 national championship, moving from 6-1 to 8-1 at ESPN BET.

Nick Saban’s departure marks the end of an era, leaving an indelible mark on college football and a legacy that will be remembered for generations. While speculation arises about his future involvement in the sport, Saban’s decision to retire underscores the inevitable passage of time, closing a chapter on one of the most dominant coaching careers in college football history.