When Mal Moore convinced Terry Saban, who convinced Nick Saban to join Alabama football, there was a repeated claim. College football pundits and fans of other programs predicted that Saban would stay in Tuscaloosa less than five years.
Terry Saban enjoyed living in Tuscaloosa, and the university that gave Nick the keys and nearly unlimited resources shattered that premise.
Few other schools and few other coaches have experienced such stability.
A major reason for the high turnover among head coaches is the high salaries that many jobs demand. In 2007, 13 FBS head coaches made $2 million or more. Nick Saban was the trendsetter at today’s bargain price of $4 million.
To be in the top 10 salaries for college head coaches in 2022, you need to earn more than $7 million per year. Six guys make $9 million or more. It doesn’t matter whether you think the salaries are insanely high or that they match the demands of the job. With the BIG dollars has come a general reduction in job security.
Twenty years ago, most ADs were willing to give a new head football coach four seasons to build a program. Before that, stepping back into the Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant era, an aspiring head coach routinely told the ADs that it took five seasons to build a program. Those days will never return.
Barring off-the-field issues or bizarre personal behavior, today’s coaches typically have a two-season window to win.
Mike Huguenin, writing recently for On3, reported that the average tenure of the current 131 FBS head coaches is 3.7 years. There are new head coaches in 29 of the 131 programs (with James Madison new for the 2022 season).
Alabama Football – Nick Saban and Longevity
Contrary to 2007 claims about Nick Saban, the Alabama football boss is one of the longest-serving head coaches in FBS football. The longest is Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz with 23 seasons for the Hawkeyes. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham have been in their jobs for 17 seasons. Middle Tennesse State’s Rick Stockstill and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald are next at 16 Seasons. In 6th place with 15 seasons of longevity are Troy Calhoun of the Air Force and Nick Saban.
Six months ago, a prediction was offered that Nick Saban would be in Alabama at least through the 2026 season. It’s a good bet Nick won’t miss the Tide’s trip to Morgantown, WV in September 2026.
As said in the same post, it’s also a good bet that Saban will be coaching during his current football contract in Alabama, which runs through the 2028 season.