Paul Finebaum discusses potential replacements for Nick Saban at Alabama
Paul Finebaum has been covering Nick Saban’s legendary career at Alabama for its entirety. But, at some point, Saban will have to retire, right?
So, that begs the question — who will be the best bet to take over the Crimson Tide program once the GOAT actually does ride off into the sunset?
“I was in Alabama the other night talking to some ‘Bama people and the conversation came up about Saban’s future, and it was interesting,” Finebaum said. “I’m giving you an anecdotal conversation. Yeah, they still love Kirby Smart over there. They respect him more than any other coach, other than Nick Saban, and that includes Dabo Swinney. Somebody brought up — a bunch of us were sitting around late, and Dabo Swinney’s name came up. These are all Alabama people. And I looked around this table, and there were about 10 of them — prominent Alabama boosters — and I didn’t see one who felt good about Dabo Swinney taking over for Nick Saban.
“Four years ago, I would’ve told you he’d be the overwhelming pick to be, of a group like. He’s not anymore. Now, what’s happened? I don’t know. A lot of things have happened. But the answer was there really isn’t an answer right now. And timing is really critical.”
Then, Finebaum discussed a former Saban assistant — new Florida coach Billy Napier:
“Bill O’Brien is on the staff. Would he move up? I mean, we’re talking about something sudden happening. But if there were time and Saban announced in October, ‘This is my last year,’ then who would emerge? I think you always have to talk about the X Factor,” Finebaum said. “Somebody mentioned Billy Napier, if he has success. Billy Napier is well liked. But three years ago, Jeremy Pruitt was well liked and considered to be a favorite. He’s now persona non grata. So you just don’t know. Things change very quickly. People emerge, people come and go.”
Next, Finebaum mentioned that Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin would be an interesting option in Tuscaloosa:
“I’m not saying he wouldn’t be (the guy), because I’m in total agreement,” Finebaum said. “As a football coach, Lane Kiffin is terrific. He’s outstanding. I think what you have to accept is Lane Kiffin has some sideshow in him, but it shouldn’t take away what he’s capable of doing. And at Alabama, he wouldn’t have to do all that. Why would Lane Kiffin need to spend a lot of time tweeting emojis when he’s the Alabama football coach?”
Finally, Finebaum mentioned new Miami coach Mario Cristobal as a fringe contender:
“Another name that has come up, that I think is somewhat out of the contention, is Mario Cristobal,” Finebaum said. “He’s well liked at Alabama, too. It’s hard to imagine, after leaving to go to Oregon and now coming to Miami, it’s even conceivable he could make another move.”
Of course, all of this is irrelevant until Saban, you know, actually retires. That might not be for a long time yet, the way things are currently going!
Finebaum also discussed the topic of Saban’s successors during a recent appearance on “The Saturday Down South Podcast.” Check out that segment below: