Editorial Roundup: Alabama

Decatur Daily. June 9, 2021.

Editorial: Live long and prosper

The University of Alabama’s head football coach, Nick Saban, looks like he isn’t going anywhere.

To hear the future legend talk, that wasn’t likely anyway. His wife, whom he calls “Miss Terry,” seems to have long ago acclimated herself to the Tuscaloosa scene and has no desire to go elsewhere.

But if the 69-year-old coach Saban needed any other inducements, a new contract extension that runs through the 2028 season should do the trick.

In a statement, Saban said he and his wife “are pleased and happy to sign another contract extension that will keep us in Tuscaloosa through the end of our career. Our family calls Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama home, it’s a place where our roots now run deep.”

That certainly makes it sound like the clock is ticking on Saban’s time leading the Crimson Tide football program to heights not seen even in the days of the program’s last legendary head coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Since arriving at Alabama, in 2007, he has led the team to six national championships, and none of the “mythical variety.” He has done so in less time than it took Bryant to win his six national titles, and clearly neither he nor the university thinks he is done yet, which is why he’s the highest paid coach in college football, earning $9.3 million last year, not including anything he makes on the side for just being Nick Saban.

And it’s not just titles Saban has brought to T-town, where those are expected. Before his arrival, Alabama had never had a Heisman Trophy winner — not even “Broadway Joe” Namath. Now it has three, tying it with rival Auburn.

Yes, Saban’s numbers are impressive, but perhaps most impressive is his age: 69. That was how old Bryant was when he died a month after stepping down following roughly a quarter century as Alabama’s head coach and athletic director.

A lot of that had to do with Bryant’s lifestyle. After years of heavy smoking and drinking, Bryant was in poor health through most of the 1970s. When asked how he would spend his retirement, Bryant prophetically replied, “Probably croak in a week.”

If Saban serves out his current contract, he’ll be 77 when he finally trades the gridiron for the golf course permanently. And why not? Seventy-seven isn’t what it was in 1983. It’s not even what 69 was in 1983.

Many Americans are living longer and healthier, and most have given up their bad habits, like smoking. The one area where we fall down is we’re fatter, which for many of us is a symptom of how good we have it on every other account. (And this is not a problem for Saban, who has sidelines to pace.)

Americans have recently elected the nation’s oldest president, Joe Biden, who turned 78 two months before taking the oath of office. Before that, the country’s oldest president was Donald Trump, who was 70 when he took office.

Even as they’re hitting retirement age, Baby Boomers (and the few odd members of the Silent Generation like Biden) aren’t going anywhere. They’re staying active in retirement, if they’re even bothering to retire.

As Mr. Spock used to say on a TV show that first aired when the Boomers were still young, “Live long and prosper.”

Nick Saban certainly looks like he’s going to do both.

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