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ESPN hires Nick Saban to serve as analyst on 'College GameDay'

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 07: Former college football head coach Nick Saban prepares to tee off during the Pro-am to the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 07, 2024 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Former Alabama coach Nick Saban is now ESPN analyst Nick Saban. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (Christian Petersen via Getty Images)

Nick Saban wasn’t fully retired for very long.

ESPN announced Wednesday that the former Alabama coach would serve as a college football analyst for the network in 2024. ESPN said that Saban would work “primarily” as an analyst on its “College GameDay” pregame show.

“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 an ESPN statement. “I’ll do my best to offer additional insights and perspectives to contribute to ‘College GameDay,’ the ultimate Saturday tradition for college football fans.”

According to the release, Saban is joining the current cast of Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Pat McAfee and others. Wednesday's announcement came as Saban was in Phoenix enjoying his retirement and playing in the PGA Tour WM Open pro-am instead of at Alabama finalizing a recruiting class on National Signing Day.

Saban, 72, surprised the college football world in January when he announced that he was stepping down as Alabama’s coach. The Crimson Tide rebounded from a Week 2 loss to Texas to win the SEC and advance to the College Football Playoff before losing to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Saban spent 17 years at Alabama as the Crimson Tide won six national titles during his time at the school. Alabama’s undefeated season and national title in 2020 was Saban’s seventh as a head coach and broke a tie with former Alabama coach Bear Bryant for the coach with the most national titles.

Saban’s move into TV is not a surprising one. He’d been doing a lot of guest work for ESPN in recent years, including for the network’s playoff coverage when Alabama wasn’t a part of it. Saban has proven to be an insightful analyst when on set and it felt natural that he would move into some sort of a TV role when he stopped coaching.

“Nick Saban is a singular, iconic presence in college football,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “He is also an extremely gifted communicator who will immediately add even more credibility, authority and entertainment value to ESPN, including our esteemed ‘College GameDay’ show."