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Back to work: Saban joining ESPN, ‘GameDay’

Nick Saban, who retired last month as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide after 17 seasons, is ready to go back to work.

One of the most accomplished coaches in college football history with seven national championships, Saban will be joining ESPN, it was announced Wednesday.

Saban, 72, will primarily serve as an analyst on ESPN’s “College GameDay” and also will lend his expertise across ESPN’s platforms to a variety of events, including the NFL draft and SEC media days.

“ESPN and College GameDay have played such an important role in the growth of college football, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join their team,” Saban said in a statement. “I’ll do my best to offer additional insights and perspectives to contribute to College GameDay, the ultimate Saturday tradition for college football fans.”

Saban has appeared multiple times as a guest on “College GameDay” alongside new teammates Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Pat McAfee.

“Nick Saban is a singular, iconic presence in college football,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “He is also an extremely gifted communicator, who will immediately add even more credibility, authority and entertainment value to ESPN, including our esteemed College GameDay show.”

In his 17 campaigns with the Crimson Tide, Saban won 201 games — tied with Vince Dooley (Georgia) for the second-most wins at a single school in SEC history, behind only Bear Bryant, who won 232 games in his 25 seasons with Alabama.

In addition to six national titles, Saban also won nine SEC championships at Alabama.

In his 28 years as a college head coach — a career that included seven national titles, 12 conference championships (11 SEC, 1 MAC) and 19 bowl game wins — Saban never had a losing season. His worst seasons were at Michigan State in 1996 and 1998 when the Spartans finished .500.

He made a two-year foray into the NFL to coach the Miami Dolphins before returning to college football to revive one of its most storied programs, which hadn’t won a national title in 15 years. He won more games in 17 seasons at Alabama (201) than the Crimson Tide had won in the 24 seasons between Bryant’s retirement and Saban’s hiring (171).

Saban is 292-71-1 as a college coach, ranking him sixth all time in the FBS in wins and 12th in NCAA college football history regardless of division. He led Toledo to a MAC championship in 1990, his lone season as that program’s coach. He then worked as Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns for four seasons before becoming the first Michigan State coach to lead his first three teams to bowl games then taking LSU to the 2003 national title.

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