Nick Saban Says His Retirement Decision Came Down to Five Minutes Before He Told His Team

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One of the key elements that set former Alabama coach Nick Saban apart from his contemporaries was his unparalleled sense of preparedness. It helped him checkmate generations of coaches in every kind of game, from September blowouts to bowl nail-biters to national championships galore.

However, five minutes away from making the biggest decision of his life on Wednesday, Saban told ESPN’s Rece Davis he was contemplating an audible. The question: to retire, or not retire?

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“It was a hard decision. I love coaching. I love the relationships with the players. The thing that made it more difficult for me is … how it impacted the players, the coaches, all the people who work in the building that contributed to the success of the team, how would it affect them?” Saban told Davis in an interview that will air on SportsCenter Thursday evening.

Saban coached the Crimson Tide for 17 seasons, winning six national championships to go with his 2003 title at LSU.

“I was on the phone—we had a meeting at four o’clock—at 3:55, I was sitting in my chair looking at the clock, saying you got five minutes to decide which speech you’re going to give,” Saban said. “I was talking to [my wife] right up until that time. It was a difficult decision because it impacts and influences the lives of so many people.”

Ultimately, Saban chose to walk away, leaving behind a career like none other in the 154-year history of college football.

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