Nick Saban, who ended his high-profile run as head football coach at the University of Alabama last month, is headed to ESPN.
The championship-winning coach will become a regular on the network’s popular show College GameDay and is also slated to appear elsewhere on ESPN, including on coverage of the NFL Draft this spring.
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Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the Saban signing and a slew of other news during the company’s fiscal first quarter earnings call.
Saban, 72, is already a recognizable figure on ESPN, whether in interviews, documentary programming or in commercials for insurance firm Aflac. Prior to Alabama, Saban coached at Toledo and Michigan State before winning a national title at LSU, but he is best known for capturing six more titles in a 16-year run at Alabama. He has come to be seen as essentially college football’s version of NFL coach Bill Belichick. Strikingly, both all-time greats found themselves out of work at the start of 2024 for the first time in decades and neither is likely to take the field as a coach in 2024.
Alabama lost in the Rose Bowl in the New Year’s Day semifinals of the College Football Playoff, falling to eventual champion Michigan.
GameDay, a foundational part of ESPN’s highly rated college football broadcasts, added Pat McAfee to its on-air lineup last season. That addition as well as a steady amount of intrigue surrounding the highly competitive season propelled the show to its second-most-watched season since 2011, averaging 2 million viewers, a tick below its all-time record of 2.1 million in 2022.
“ESPN and College GameDay have played such an important role in the growth of college football, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join their team,” Saban said in a press release.
ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro called Saban “a singular, iconic presence in college football. He is also an extremely gifted communicator, who will immediately add even more credibility, authority and entertainment value to ESPN.”
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