The news out of Oklahoma that long-time Sooners coach Bob Stoops has decided to retire surprised many in the college football world.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he wishes his friend of over 40 years well in whatever he chooses to do next.

“Bob is a great friend and one of the best coaches in the country during his time at Oklahoma,” Saban said in a statement. “I have had the pleasure of knowing him and his family for over 40 years. I have always had so much respect for Bob because of his professionalism and his integrity. The quality of teams he has been able to field on a consistent basis is second to none. We wish him well in whatever he chooses to do in the future.”

Saban’s LSU Tigers defeated Stoops’ Sooners 21-14 for the BCS championship in the 2004 Sugar Bowl. The two coaches met again in New Orleans a decade later when Oklahoma upset Alabama 45-31 in the 2014 Sugar Bowl.