Stephen A. Smith argues for Deion Sanders to replace Nick Saban at Alabama
Stephen A. Smith doesn’t believe it will happen, but he would like to see Alabama target Colorado head coach Deion Sanders to be the next coach of the Crimson Tide.
During a segment on ESPN’s First Take Friday morning, Smith and the rest of the panel were posed a simple question, and one everyone has been asking since Saban officially retired. Who is the best fit to replace the Alabama head coach?
Here’s what Smith had to say on the matter:
“Y’all gonna call me crazy but I’m gonna say it again. Prime Time, Deion Sanders. I feel that way, he’s probably mad that I’m going to say it. Go ahead and be happy in Boulder, Colorado. Knock yourself out. God bless you. … I was there twice in my life, and the only reason for that was him.
“I would tell you this: The reason why I feel that way is I’m thinking about today’s generation of players, catching the pulse of the players. I’m thinking about NIL. I’m thinking about the transfer portal, which obviously were things that Nick Saban had some degree of a problem with. And then I’m thinking about Deion Sanders, he’s got the top-ranked transfer class right now. This is the second year he’s pulled that off.
“When you look at it from that perspective, the ability to recruit talent, I think if you’re going to replace the greatness of a Nick Saban, it starts and ends first and foremost with being able to recruit. And you can’t tell me that for a big-time program like Alabama, somebody like Prime Time goes there, you aren’t gonna have athletes that will follow. I felt that same way about Texas A&M, I thought they should have gone in that direction. That’s just me. It’s not going to happen. I know that, but that’s what I would say.”
Sanders finished his first season as an FBS head coach in 2023 with a 4-8 record and a six-game losing streak.
Colorado opened the season with three straight wins, including a season-opening victory over then-No. 17 TCU. Over the first month of the season, Colorado was the talk of college football. Sanders, who had used the transfer portal to overhaul CU’s roster in an unprecedented way ahead of his first season, was on top of the world.
Then conference play began and CU came crashing back to earth. The Buffs finished 1-8 in conference play, matching the Pac-12 record they’d posted the year prior. They lost eight of their final nine games, including five by seven points or less.
Sanders was the head coach at Jackson State from 2020-22, where he proved more than capable of winning high-profile recruiting battles. He has done the same at Colorado.
However, he doesn’t appear to be on Alabama’s radar beyond just talkshow speculation. The Crimson Tide reportedly focused in on Florida State’s Mike Norvell and Washington’s Kalen DeBoer. Norvell announced on Friday he is staying put. Dan Lanning (Oregon) and Steve Sarkisian (Texas) have done the same.