Auburn University AD sends strong message on Nick Saban, notes retirement has nothing to do with Auburn football

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Auburn University AD John Cohen spoke out on Nick Saban's retirement from the University of Alabama's football program as head coach, noting that it had nothing to do with the Auburn football program's goals and ambitions.

“I’ll say this, as somebody who’s lived in the region for a long time and more than a casual observer, Coach Saban can be considered one of the greatest of all time,” Cohen said in a January interview with “But, Alabama won national championships before he got there and they have the potential to win them after he leaves. I have nothing but the ultimate respect for not only Coach Saban but (Alabama athletic director) Greg Byrne. I think that my expectation is that Alabama will continue at a positive path in the sport of football. But I will say, this has nothing to do with Auburn University.

“What happens in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at the University of Alabama does not affect the way we work, the way we prepare, the way Coach Freeze builds his program. There’s no question that Hugh Freeze took over a program that’s recruiting class was ranked in the 60s and we’re one calendar year later and it’s currently in the top 10 with the potential to be in the top five before it’s all said and done. I don’t know of anyone in the country that could do that in one calendar year. That has nothing to do with anything that’s going on anywhere else.”

Nick Saban's retirement from Alabama only positive for Auburn football

Cohen gave a safe, PC answer here. The truth of the matter is that Alabama losing Saban has been damning for the Tide's recruiting, and in turn, will likely cause a major dropoff in talent for the 2024 season and beyond.

Ryan Williams' recruitment is an example of Saban's retirement having an impact on AU. If he commits to the Tigers and completes the Freeze Five, though it was possible before Kalen DeBoer replace Saban, it's hard not to directly link it to the coaching change.

Everyone is affected by Saban leaving, down to Navy's head coach, Ken Niumatalolo, ending up at San Jose State due to all the coaching changes that resulted from the G.O.A.T. calling it a career.

An era ending in Tuscaloosa means a new one starts everywhere else. Auburn included.

Auburn has a chance to leapfrog Alabama in the SEC without Saban around and you can celebrate this weekend thanks to FanDuel. Just sign up, deposit $10 or more and then bet $5 or more on either NFL Conference Championship game. You'll get $150 in bonus bets, win or lose! Sign up with FanDuel today.