Nick Saban, arguably the greatest college football coach of all time, sent shock waves through the sports world this week when he announced his decision to retire. Saban spent 17 seasons leading the Alabama football program, winning six national championships along the way. 

The legendary coach also won a national title at LSU. Saban won 11 SEC Conference championships over his combined time in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa. 

Alabama will now launch a search for the football team’s next head coach.

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Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne is now tasked with finding the right person for the high-profile job. There has been broad speculation on what Alabama is looking for in a head coach. 

On Wednesday night, Byrne shared some insight on what qualities a candidate should have.

Byrne and the university appear to value a coach who has the ability to recruit players and develop them once they arrive at the Alabama campus, while also possessing strong relationship building skills. A coach’s game-planning ability will also be highly valued.

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“As with any coaching search, our goal is to be thorough, but expedient. Our ideal candidate will be strong in recruiting and relationship building, player development, excel in Xs and Os, and have the overall ability to lead this historic program,” Byrne said in a statement. 

The Alabama football program was in the midst of a disappointing run before Saban took over in 2007, but he quickly turned the Crimson Tide back into a national powerhouse. He expressed gratitude for his time in Tuscaloosa and said he always tried to set the Alabama players up for successful futures.

“The University of Alabama has been a very special place to Terry and me,” Saban said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Oregon football coach Dan Lanning’s name has been linked to the job opening at Alabama. But Lanning attempted to put those rumors to bed on Thursday by releasing video showing the Ducks head coach telling his team that he was staying in Eugene.

“I want to be here in Eugene for as long as Eugene will have me,” Lanning says in the video. “This place has everything that I could possibly ever want. There’s a little bit of a problem in society today with people looking for what’s next and where there’s an opportunity.

“The reality is the grass is not always greener. In fact, the grass is damn greener in Eugene.”

Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer and Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin have also been mentioned in conversations about the Crimson Tide. Kiffin spent three seasons under Saban, serving as Alabama’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator.

Byrne attempted to get ahead of the numerous rumors surrounding the coaching search.

“There will be plenty of rumors out there during this process. Next time I talk publicly will be to announce our new coach. If you don’t hear it from me, don’t believe it. Roll Tide!”

University president Stuart Bell also released a statement saying Alabama will exhaust all resources in its search for the next coach.

“As we would all expect, the University and its leadership will work tirelessly to ensure our proud tradition and standard of excellence continues in football and every endeavor that supports the mission of The University of Alabama.” Bell said.

Alabama kicks off the 2024 season on Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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