Nick Saban almost left Alabama for ESPN in 2014, new book reveals
July 27, 2022
In 2014, Nick Saban had discussions about leaving the University of Alabama for ESPN. A new book by John Talty, "The Leadership Secrets of Nick Saban: How Alabama's Coach Became the Greatest Ever", details the multiple meetings that occurred between the coach and the network.
Those following the story of Saban's alleged feud with the media might be surprised to learn that he once considered joining ESPN.
Before the 2013 season ended with the national championship, the coach met with Nick Khan, an agent who represented various prominent media personalities such as Kirk Herbstreit, Colin Cowherd, Mike Greenberg, and numerous others.
During the 2013 season, Alabama was on the verge of winning the national championship when it lost to Auburn. The game, referred to as the Kick Six, happened after Auburn's Chris Davis caught a short field-goal attempt from Adam Griffith. He then ran back for a touchdown to give the Tigers the lead.
Saban's interest in joining ESPN
After the season ended, the coach reportedly encouraged Khan to reach out to ESPN to discuss his next career move. He allegedly wanted to start a new chapter in his life and consider the media part.
Khan then arranged a meeting between himself, the coach, and Jimmy Sexton, his agent, in California. The meeting also included John Wildhack, the athletic director of the University of Syracuse.
During the meeting, the two discussed the possibility of working at ESPN's "College GameDay." According to the book, the 70-year-old coach was interested in learning more about the network's organizational structure and what it would be like working on a team.
Despite his decision to stay with Alabama, Saban's interest in ESPN was still genuine. According to Wildhack, the coach was still interested in the job in the book even though he didn't have a good conversation with the network. He also said that if he weren't interested in becoming a coach, he would have never taken the job in the first place.
"Not because we didn't have a good conversation and not because he wasn't intrigued by television because he was intrigued and he was interested," said Wildhack in the book. "If he wasn't interested, he never would have done it in the first place. But I also didn't think he was ready to step aside as being a coach."
According to Wildhack, Khan noted that the meeting with ESPN was informative and that the coach was still interested in becoming a coach. He also said that despite his age, he still wanted to be involved in coaching.
"Coach is really appreciative of the meeting, found it to be very informative and has a lot of respect for GameDay and ESPN, but at this point in his career, he still has a desire to coach," Khan told Wildhack.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit believed to catch wind of the talks about the coach's potential return to the NFL. In 2014, he said that if the coach decided to leave Alabama, he would be on the "College GameDay" set before becoming a head coach in the NFL. He also noted that there was an itch to be an analyst after he finished working at Alabama.