Alabama head coach Nick Saban could have deprived himself of three of his seven career national championships. A new book reveals that the most successful coach in college football history was in talks to cut his career short and join ESPN in 2014.
According to The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban by AL.com senior sports editor John Talty, the 70-year-old took part in meetings after the season in pursuit of a broadcasting role.
Per Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post, Saban had "'zeroed in' on the possibility of joining ESPN’s College GameDay." He even "quizzed" then-ESPN senior executive John Wildhack about the experience of working for the worldwide leader and the company's structure. It reportedly was important to Saban to gauge whether it would be similar to "working on a team."
"Not because we didn't have a good conversation and not because he wasn't intrigued by television because he was intrigued and he was interested," Wildhack said in the book. "If he wasn't interested, he never would have done it in the first place. But I also didn't think he was ready to step aside as being a coach."
Glasspiegel pointed out that ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit's comments about the coach in 2014 likely indicated he was aware of Saban's interest in broadcasting. Herbstreit was asked about the possibility of Saban jumping to the NFL and replied, "Nick Saban will be on the set with us before he's a coach in the NFL. I really believe that after he's done at Alabama, whenever that time is, whether it's a year, five years, whatever it is, I really believe there's an itch there about becoming an analyst."
Saban made the right decision to stay at Alabama, as he went on to lead the Crimson Tide to national titles in 2015, 2017 and 2020.
The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban will be released on Aug. 9.