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Jumbo Package: Devastation in Tuscaloosa as Nick Saban retires

What’s next for the Crimson Tide?

NCAA Football: BCS Championship-Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Man, how am I even supposed to put together a Jumbo Package today?

I vividly remember the years before Nick Saban took the job at Alabama, and have been thankful ever since for the utter domination and unflappable consistency of the last 16 years. Everything about Alabama football, including my hobby/job at this here website, has been remarkably stable for so long that it’s hard to remember what things are like when it’s NOT stable.

With Saban retiring yesterday, the entire college football world is being hit with seismic shocks. There are a million stories firing off right now that I could link to, but for the most part, everyone is working with the same information: none.

Ok, well, it has been reported that Oregon head coach Dan Lanning is already in Tuscaloosa for an interview. (And some enterprising folks #online found a jet charter from Eugene, Oregon to Tuscaloosa, AL)

According to a report from KVAL CBS in Eugene, Ore., the next head coach could already be in Tuscaloosa.

“As we did report before, I do, I previously worked in Alabama - in Tuscaloosa. Of course, I do have some sources there,” said anchor Brandon Kamerman. “We did confirm that Lanning is in Tuscaloosa - in Alabama.”

I have no doubt Lanning is on the list for interviewing, but I sure don’t think that in any way means he IS the guy.

Anyway, rumors are already shooting out like wildfires. Some have said Lane Kiffin is a top candidate, others say he’s off the board. Some said that Greg Byrne has been eyeing Kalen DeBoer the last few months.

As of now, though, we don’t know. We do have reports that Byrne told the team there would be a new coach in place within 72 hours. And Byrne publicly stated to not believe anything you hear until you hear it from him.

So, we should know by Saturday.

And Byrne needs to make sure he has something figured out by then, because keeping the roster together will be harder and harder the longer it takes.

Whenever there’s a head-coaching change — a firing, retirement, or if a head coach leaves for another job — players at that school get a 30-day window to freely enter the transfer portal.

As such, Alabama’s entire roster — which featured as many as 18 5-star recruits and 56 4-star prospects during the 2023 season — now has until Feb. 9 to enter the portal and change schools. That includes the early enrollees from the Tide’s 2024 recruiting class, which finished No. 2 nationally and features 3 5-stars and 19 4-stars.

Alabama has an amazing collection of talent, but every single player on that roster has never known of an Alabama without Nick Saban, so you know that they shaken to their cores with swirling uncertainty. A swift, decisive hire will go a long ways toward keeping things together. Alabama will lose some more players to the portal in the coming days, but hopefully will be able to keep the losses to a minimum.

Word is that Malachi Moore, Deontae Lawson, and Jalen Milroe called a player’s meeting about everyone staying together, which seems to be a good sign.

ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis explained why this was the right time for Saban, now 72, to call it quits after his enjoyment of the 2023-24 season.

“I felt like he got a great deal of satisfaction out of coaching this team,” Davis said during an appearance on SportsCenter. “There have been times at Alabama because of the dynasty — which I believe to be the greatest in the history of the sport — I think it has been frustrating to him because people become complacent. They take things for granted, because they operate like regular human beings, which he often does not, you know, in terms of being continually driven, continually in the moment, never being complacent.

“I believe this team, because it had a lot of room to grow, was very satisfying to him. And I certainly believe it was one of his best coaching jobs to take his team, make them the SEC Champion, get them into the playoff, be a play or two away from getting into the national championship game. So I believe there was a certain sense of he was confident, relaxed, happy with the progress that his team had made.”

I agree with Rece here. While it would have been really cool to go out with a final National Championship, I think this team was a massive accomplishment for Saban, and a chance for him to go out on a high note. He beat all of the rivals, including avenging losses to LSU and Tennessee, plus he took down Georgia to end their 29 game win streak and prevent a 3-peat while winning the SEC. It was as good of a season as any to end on, and I’m very happy he didn’t wait too long and see the program trail off while the fanbase tore itself apart. We’ll always remember the entirety of Saban’s tenure at Alabama as utterly dominant and the best coach in history.

So keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t believe everything (anything?) you see online, especially Twitter. The fake accounts are out in force already. Hopefully, we get some resolution by Saturday.

In the meantime, check out AL.com’s compilation of Saban’s greatest press conference moments.

Roll Tide!