Football will never be the same — Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll move on

Over the past 24 hours, the football world has flipped on its head. First, the news of Pete Carroll departing the Seahawks. Then, Nick Saban announced his retirement from Alabama. Finally, Bill Belichick and the Patriots agreed to a mutual separation.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick chats with Alabama head coach Nick Saban during Pro
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick chats with Alabama head coach Nick Saban during Pro / Mickey Welsh / Advertiser

The football world was dealt blow after blow the past 24 hours — depending on who you ask. On Wednesday, news broke that the Seahawks and Pete Carroll would be parting ways. Soon after, Nick Saban announced his retirement from the Alabama Crimson Tide. But perhaps the biggest bomb of all came Thursday, as the Patriots and Bill Belichick mutually separated.

To say this is a devastating loss for the football world would be a vast understatement. Love them or hate them, the triumvirate of Carroll-Saban-Belichick increased the quality of football and helped evolve the sport we all know and love. They are the founding fathers of this generation.

But with that success comes the ire of rival fans. While the feeling is a somber one objectively, there’s no doubt the NFC West, the AFC East, and SEC fans are all pumping their fists at the thought — the Boogeyman is dead… all three of them.

The Pete Carroll Tenure Comes To An End In Seattle

For Carroll, his reign of dominance lasted as long as any. From building a dynasty at USC to taking the Seahawks to multiple Super Bowls, few have navigated the football realm as well as the 72-year-old. It came as a stunner to hear of Carroll’s departure, as he had just recently said he planned on being back.

Now, for Seattle, they will embark on a difficult task — replacing the best head coach in franchise history. Dan Quinn, with his roots to the organization, projects as the front-runner in the upcoming coaching search. But names like Ben Johnson and Bobby Slowik shouldn’t be ignored.

Nick Saban Rides Off Into The Sunset, Leaving Alabama Better Than He Found It

Pivoting to Nick Saban, he has an argument as the single best coach in sports history — not just Alabama or football. Sure, he never quite figured it out in the NFL, but the dynasty he built at Alabama will live forever in the history books. He won six national titles with the Crimson Tide, with nine SEC championships on top of it.

Saban sent over 40 players to the NFL Draft as first-rounders, which eclipses the number of losses he had in his 17-year stint in Tuscaloosa. That is downright absurd. He developed dozens of the best players to come through the NFL since 2007, including the likes of Derrick Henry, Jalen Hurts, and Julio Jones.

As is the case with Carroll, replacing Saban will be no small feat for Alabama. Dan Lanning quickly emerged as the front-runner for the opening, as the Oregon head coach is considered one of the best up-and-comers. But don’t rule out Lane Kiffin as a wildcard in the search. Either way, the Tide are in good hands.

Bill Belichick May Not Be Ready To Retire, But His Reign In New England Is Over

And then the most prolific coach but the least surprising departure of all — Bill Belichick. While Saban can throw his hat in the ring as the best coach in American sports history, his sleeveless-hoodie-wearing buddy would like a word. After all, his six Super Bowl rings are two more than the next closest head coach.

Along with Tom Brady, Belichick built on the Patriots’ success of the 90s by turning the organization into one of the most prized in the world. The duo combined for countless records and victories, but New England has hit a roadblock in recent years, aside from the lone postseason berth in 2021.

Rumblings of a mutual parting began surfacing as early as the 2022 regular season, but those talks picked up more steam in 2023, especially when it became clear the Patriots would be amongst the worst teams in the league.

Belichick is past the point of wanting a full rebuild, and New England is past the point of kicking the can down the road anymore. It’s a split that makes sense, but still is jarring to see come to fruition. The good news? It’s likely the Patriots are a premier destination for head coaching candidates.

What Comes Next? A New Era Of Football

Mike Vrabel, a former Coach of the Year and long-time Patriot should be the top name in the search. The Titans surprisingly let Vrabel go this offseason, citing organizational differences as the reason. If Robert Kraft is wise, he will swoop in and make the signing. But don’t underestimate Jerod Mayo, as the current assistant is well-regarded amongst those within the franchise.

As for Belichick, there are a few enticing openings across the league that could serve as a bookend to his illustrious career. The Chargers, Falcons, and Commanders have all been linked to him, and the Raiders and Titans will surely gauge interest as they continue lining up interviews with prospective coaches.

Losing these three coaches in the span of 24 hours highlights how the landscape of football is changing. Even if Belichick does find another job elsewhere, January 2024 still marks the end for three of the most successful coaches in the modern era.

The youth movement has begun, leaving Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as the longest-tenured in the league. For those who grew up in the late 90s and early 2000s, pour one out for our childhood. A large portion of it just disappeared in one fell swoop.

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