College Football News May 15: Could Nick Saban Retire Soon?

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Nick Saban is still at the pinnacle of his profession. But, as one of the oldest head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision, AL.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky posits an interesting thought: the Alabama head coach’s retirement could come sooner than some anticipate.

Scarbinsky dips his toe in waters that surely bring plenty of Crimson Tide fans’ blood to a boil, citing Nick Saban’s recent prickly behavior — or, at least, pricklier than usual. The latest instance is Saban lamenting the coexistence of the College Football Playoff with the traditional bowl system, saying: “Maybe we need to go one way or the other. Either have bowl games or have playoffs but not try to have both.”

Nick Saban’s stance on bowl games in the 2015 offseason sounds a bit different than his assessment of the Sugar Bowl a year ago, when he downplayed Alabama’s appearance there as a “consolation.” But that, too, fits into Scarbinsky’s overall narrative that perhaps Saban is headed to retirement.

For those who argue Nick Saban and Alabama are still at the pinnacle of college football, I offer an analogy: Seinfeld went off the air in 1998, still on top of television ratings.

The series’ hit its stride around 1994 and carved out a place in TV lore, much like the Saban-led Alabama dynasty of 2009-2012. When Larry David left as showrunner, Seinfeld featured sillier story lines and wasn’t quite the same as at its height, but remained one of the best offerings on television.

Sitcoms tend to hang on too long — The Office is the Mack Brown of his analogy — but Seinfeld is beloved so much now in part because it bowed out before going off the rails.

Alabama has slipped somewhat in the last two seasons, but remains one of the better programs in college football. Should Nick Saban retire soon, he’ll go out as the sport’s Seinfeld.

So expect him to resurface in about a decade with a terrible animated movie about bees.

Texas A&M Aggies Preview

Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports’ Top 25 preview series rolls along with No. 20, Texas A&M. The Aggies’ flirtation with the top of the SEC in their first two seasons as members ended with a thoroughly mediocre Year 3.

However, the Athlon Sports staff is projecting something of a bounce-back in 2015, as the Aggies return quarterback Kyle Allen and welcome John Chavis as new defensive coordinator. I add the qualifier “somewhat,” because Texas A&M may check in at No. 20 in the nation, but is projected to finish just sixth in the deep SEC West.

Sporting News FCS Top 25

Four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State tops the Sporting News preseason top 25, in what should come as a shock to no one. The Bison lose stars like running back John Crockett and Buck Buchanan Award winner Kyle Emanuel, but no program in college sports reloads quite like North Dakota State.

Some other noteworthy teams ranked including Youngstown State, which cracked the top 10 in first-year head coach Bo Pelini’s debut campaign. Idaho State, which spent much of the last two decades languishing in the basement of the Big Sky Conference, is ranked No. 14 after its 8-4 finish a season ago.

Charleston Southern sneaked into the poll at No. 24, marking the first time in program history the Buccaneers have been ranked. Some might remember Charleston Southern for facing the defending national champion Florida Gators in 2009 as an unbelievable 73-point underdog.

Here’s the complete ranking:

1. North Dakota State
2. Sam Houston State
3. Illinois State
4. Villanova
5. Eastern Washington
6. Coastal Carolina
7. Jacksonville State
8. Chattanooga
9. Montana State
10. Youngstown State
11. Northern Iowa
12. James Madison
13. Idaho State
14. Eastern Kentucky
15. Montana
16. Liberty
17. Stephen F. Austin
18. New Hampshire
19. Indiana State
20. Alcorn State
21. Southeastern Louisiana
22. Northern Arizona
23. South Dakota State
24. Charleston Southern
25. Eastern Illinois