Alabama head coach Nick Saban will turn 65 during the middle of the upcoming college football season, and it stands to reason his days as a college football coach may be numbered. There is nothing more for Saban to prove and whenever he decides to call it a career, he will do so having accomplished more than almost any other college football coach in history. But because Saban is in his mid-60s, rival coaches on the recruiting trail are starting to try using his age against him and Alabama.
Using a coach’s age against them is nothing new in recruiting, but never before has that argument been so easy to shrug off as a meaningless ploy. This is not Joe Paterno we are talking about, a coach who in his 70s and 80s had been delegating more and more responsibilities to his assistants while he primarily stayed home instead of on the recruiting adventures as much as he used to, where the iconic figure head face of the program ascended to deity status despite average and mediocre seasons becoming the norm with the notable exception here or there since joining the big Ten.
This is not Frank Beamer we are talking about, who may have shown an ability to put together a strong defensive team but never grasped how to build an offense that would be worth losing sleep over since Mike Vick was scrambling all over the field.
This is not Steve Spurrier, a beloved southern icon who could still keep up with the singers but not necessarily on the scoreboard.
This is Nick Saban, a five-time national championship coach who has taken over the throne of college football with the mightiest college football juggernaut in the land. Comparing Saban to others who have had the age discrimination directed their way is nonsense, but that will not stop some coaches from attempting to do just that.
“I’m not looking to get out. I’m really not, even though I know that’s going to start being talked about more now,” Saban said in a story published by ESPN.com. “What I have noticed is that it’s the first time people are starting to say to recruits, ‘He won’t be there the whole time you’re there,’ because of my age. Does that really impact your ability to stay good? I don’t know. But if it did, it would make you say, ‘Well, what’s up with this?’ My philosophy is that I’m going to be here for as long as I feel like I can be effective, impact the players, help them be more successful in life and continue to have a successful program.”
As long as Saban is coaching, opposing coaches will continue to look for every possible edge they can get to derail the momentum Saban has going in recruiting at Alabama, a place that routinely turns in top recruiting classes. If age is the best argument rival coaches have, they better have a really solid Plan B to fall back on. We know Saban will not be at Alabama forever, but even if he does decide to retire soon, it is not likely Alabama will be falling back to mediocre status too quickly either.
This story was originally published on College Football Talk by the author.