Nick Saban healthy, mental grind became unsustainable with age

Health issues were not a factor in Nick Saban retiring as head coach at Alabama.

“In hiring coaches and recruiting players, my age started to become an issue. People wanted assurances I’d be here … three years, five years, and it became harder to be honest about it,” Saban said Thursday in an ESPN interview. “And to be honest, this last season was grueling. It was a real grind for us to come from where we stared to where we got to. It took a little more out of me than usual. When people mentioned the health issue, it was really just the grind of, ‘can you do this the way you want to do it?’ Can you do this the way you’ve always done it and be able to do it, and sustain it for the entire season.

“If I couldn’t make a commitment to do that in the future the way I have to do it, I thought maybe this was the right time based on those two sets of circumstances.”

Saban reiterated “There’s no illness. Miss Terry is fine, I’m fine. When I was young, I could work until 2 in the morning and be back at 6. When you get a little older, that gets tougher. I’m sure people can relate to that.”

Saban, 72, won six of his seven national titles in his 17 seasons at Alabama, tying the school mark set by Bear Bryant. He finishes with a career mark of 297-71-1, 206 of those wins coming at Alabama (with 29 losses).

“I don’t think there’s any good time, especially when you’re a coach. When you’re a coach, you think you’re going to coach forever,” Saban told ESPN.

He led the Crimson Tide to nine Southeastern Conference championships.

Saban’s Alabama teams missed the College Football Playoff just twice in 10 years of its existence while winning three national championships.

“Simply put, Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport, and the University of Alabama is fortunate to have had him leading our football program for the past 17 seasons,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said. ” He is the consummate coach, mentor and leader, and his impact is felt far beyond the football field.

Players learned directly from Saban of his decision on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Saban said it was important to him for every player to hear the news from him, and not wonder how much they meant to him because others reported the massive news before a team meeting.

NCAA rules permit players 30 days to enter the transfer portal following the change at head coach.

Byrne told players he hopes to have a good idea of Saban’s replacement with 72 hours.