February 28, 2024

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Nick Saban left the college football world in awe one final time Tuesday with reports he would retire as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Former NFL star Shawne Merriman told Fox News Digital he wasn’t among those stunned about the news. 

He said the changing college football landscape was likely why Saban was stepping down.

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Shawne Merriman attends the 15th annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at Sahara Las Vegas Dec. 14, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

“It’s a shock to some people out here, but I’m not shocked at all,” he said. “He’ll go down as probably the greatest college coach ever. But the timing of his departure is because college football has changed,. It’s not the same anymore. 

“He’s all about legacy, and he knows, because the college landscape has changed now with NIL and everything going on, he’s going to put a black eye on his legacy because Alabama isn’t getting the five-star recruits anymore.

“In my opinion, that is the only reason he is making a departure and retiring.”

The former Maryland standout, who is preparing to run Lights Out Extreme Fighting 14 in Long Beach, California, Feb. 16, said he believed there’s a number of people who could be in line for the job, including Mike Vrabel. 

The former Tennessee Titans head coach just parted ways with the NFL organization.

Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide before the SEC championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Saban is widely considered one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. He spent 17 seasons with Alabama, and he won seven college football national championships between LSU and Alabama and 11 SEC championships.

He’ll end his collegiate career with a 292-71-1 record.

“The University of Alabama has been a very special place to Terry and me,” Saban said in a statement, referencing his wife. “We have enjoyed every minute of our 17 years being the head coach at Alabama as well as becoming a part of the Tuscaloosa community. 

Nick Saban talks to reporters

Alabama head coach Nick Saban answers questions from the media at the Heisman Trophy press conference at the Marriott Marquis Dec. 11, 2021, in New York City. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“It is not just about how many games we won and lost, but it’s about the legacy and how we went about it. We always tried to do it the right way. The goal was always to help players create more value for their future, be the best player they could be and be more successful in life because they were part of the program. Hopefully, we have done that, and we will always consider Alabama our home.”

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