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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Book: Nick Saban Considered Joining ESPN After ‘Kick Six’

  • Seven-time national champion nearly left Alabama for “College GameDay.”
  • Set up a meeting between himself, Nick Khan, and former ESPN executive John Wildhack.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Big-time football coaches typically disdain the media — until they want a cushy, network TV job that pays millions for far less work.

Just ask legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban, who lost his cool with then ESPN reporter Maria Taylor, when she asked him a legit question about his team’s quarterback situation in 2018.

Back in 2013, the seven-time national championship-winning coach apparently felt differently about ESPN and the Fourth Estate.

Following Alabama’s crushing “Kick Six” loss to Auburn in the 2013 Iron Bowl, the salty coach considered leaving for ESPN, according to the book, “The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban,” by AL.com senior sports editor John Talty.

Saban even went so far as to set up a meeting between himself, CAA uber-agent Nick Khan (now co-CEO of the WWE) and former ESPN executive John Wildhack, according to the New York Post. 

Despite winning national championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012, the Crimson Tide coach was apparently interested in joining ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

“Saban is said to have ‘zeroed in’ on the possibility of joining ESPN’s ‘College GameDay,’ and ‘quizzed’ Wildhack on a number of questions about life at ESPN, organizational structure and if it was like ‘working on a team’ — a characteristic that was of much importance to Saban,” wrote the Post.

Fortunately for Bama fans, and unfortunately for Alabama’s rivals, the negotiations with ESPN fizzled out. Saban stayed at Alabama. He went on to lead the Tide to three more national championships in 2015, 2017 and 2020. 

Saban wouldn’t be the first coach to trade in his coaching clipboard for a TV headset. Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, and many others have followed a similar path.

Kirk Herbstreit, the star of “College GameDay,” gave viewers a wink and a nod to Saban’s clandestine talks, predicting in 2014 he’d join ESPN’s college pregame show before taking another NFL head coaching job.

Could the 70-year-old Saban jump to TV when he finally hangs them up? As the coach himself would say: “Quit asking!”

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