Alabama head football coach Nick Saban this week signed an eight-year contract extension; one that will pay him $11.5 million in 2017 alone. His total deal is worth $65 million, easily making him the highest paid college coach of any sport in history. His package also includes $4 million that will be paid out over the 2020-2022 seasons as well as a $4 million signing bonus. In other words, just for signing this deal, Saban was paid $4 million. Wow! Can any one football coach be worth that kind of money? Well, if anyone is actually worth a paycheck that big, it would be Nick Saban.
He just completed 10 seasons in Tuscaloosa as the Crimson Tide's head coach, and he has compiled an amazing 114-19 record.
That includes five SEC titles and four national championships and, had it not been for a superhuman performance from Clemson's Deshaun Watson, he would have had back-to-back national crowns twice. Under Saban Alabama is the only school to appear in all three playoff scenarios. "This has become our home and we're looking forward to finishing our career at Alabama, " Saban said this week. " We are extremely proud of the young men who have represented the Crimson Tide on the football field and, more importantly, what they have been able to accomplish in their lives off the field because of their involvement in our program."
You had to figure that a new deal was coming for Saban after Michigan gave Jim Harbaugh $7 million in 2017 and will pay him $7.5 in 2018. Saban made a mere $6.9 million in 2016, which made Harbaugh a higher paid coach. It also means that, not only is Saban the highest paid college football coach ever, he is also the highest paid college employee in history.
Now that Saban, who is 65 years old by the way, has decided to coach until he is 73, the SEC's other 13 schools will be forced to find a way to deal with him a while longer. In 10 years, they haven't really been able to do that, and, when you consider he will make almost as much as three of the other head coaches in the league combined in 2017, his deal becomes even more astonishing. Saban has dominated the SEC like no other coach ever. His 66-12 record against the SEC speaks for itself. By the way, in Saban's 10 years at Alabama, Tennessee is 0-10 against the Tide.
So, with all the money talk aside the 13 other programs in the SEC must deal with having their teeth kicked in by Alabama for several more years. He shows no signs of slowing down and he has always loved to recruit. The talent stockpile in Tuscaloosa is so good each and every year, there is never any such thing as "rebuilding." Perhaps that loss to Clemson in January's national championship game has added fuel to the fire in Saban's belly. The Tigers saw one lone weakness on Alabama's squad and that was depth on defense. By running almost 100 plays they took advantage of that weakness and won the national title. I'm sure the highest paid college football coach in history has already addressed that issue.
* * *
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.