Riding Off Into the Sunset is Not Something Coaches are Known For

Nick Saban was in a persnickety mood when it came to the question of when he would retire from coaching the Alabama football team. Years of rumors, plus hearing other schools using his age against him in recruiting, have hardened the 70-year-old Crimson Tide coach. Anyone who likes looking at college football odds knows Alabama will once again be among the favorites to win the College Football Playoff this season.

Saban did something few believed possible at Alabama, rival Bear Bryant’s legacy as coach of the Crimson Tide. During his tenure at Alabama, which dates back to 2007, Saban has a 178-25 record and has won six national championships. While everything looks great for Saban now, seldom do things end well for long-time coaches on their way out the door. Here’s a look at some other legends and their lives after coaching.

No Throat Punching Allowed Here

Woody Hayes led Ohio State from 1951 to 1978. From a strictly on-the-field perspective, the Buckeyes had one of the most successful coaching tenures ever. The Buckeyes went 205-61-10 win 13 Big Ten championships and five national championships. But anyone interested in college football lines could tell Hayes was the type of coach who would push the limits of acceptable behavior.

Hayes made crude comments on the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam during a team banquet in 1969. During an ugly incident where was upset at officiating in a game vs. rival Michigan, Hayes threw a yard marker like a javelin down the field. But the kicker to his tenure was in the 1978 Gator Bowl against Clemson.


When Tigers nose guard Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass late in the game, Hayes punch Bauman in the throat during the game. Ohio State would fire Hayes the next day. Hayes would later call Bauman to discuss the incident but never apologized.

Paterno’s Tenure Ends in Scandal

When it came to NCAA football odds for a half-century, you could count on Joe Paterno roaming the sidelines at Penn State as head football coach. During Paterno’s tenure as the Nittany Lions coach, Penn State won three Big Ten and two national championships. Paterno stills hold the NCAA record for the all-time winningest coach with 409 wins.

However, Paterno’s last season in 2011 ended in a scandal that still reverberates through Pennslyvania. Paterno would be fired after the first nine games once a scandal broke regarding a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with sexually abusing child on campus.

While Paterno reported the incident, he said in an interview following the news breaking with the benefit of hindsight that he wish he had done more. Paterno would die not long following his termination from the university.

Sorry, Gary, Time’s Up

Gary Patterson had a remarkable career at TCU, spanning three conferences and 20 years with the Horned Frogs. Patterson led the Horned Frogs to conference championships as part of Conference USA (2002), the Mountain West (2005, ‘09, ‘10’, ‘11) and the Big 12 (2014). Even after bumping up the Big 12, Patterson led TCU to a 12-1 record and nearly led the Horned Frogs to an appearance in the first-ever College Football Playoff in 2012.

But TCU slowly started to decline in performance following a 2017 season where it finished 11-3 and played in the Big 12 title game. However, during the 2021 season, allegations of verbal abuse by Patterson started to emerge from current and former players. The concerns continued to grow in volume before he and the school agreed to mutually part ways during the 2021 season.

Here’s Your Papers, Johnny

Johnny Majors turned a previously listless Pitt program into a national champion before heading home to coach Tennessee. Majors’ time at Tennessee featured a mixed bag of results, but by the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he had the Volunteers rolling. Tennessee finished in the Top 10 in 1989 and 1990.

However, Majors had heart issues that required surgery. While he was out in 1992 recovering, long-time assistant, Phillip Fulmer led the team to a 3-0 record. When Majors returned, the team struggled, and he was asked to resign. Fulmer would take over his job.

During his time at Tennessee, Majors finished with a 116-62-8 record in a tenure that spanned from 1977 to 1992. The Volunteers won three SEC championships and finished in the Top 10 three times during Majors’ stay.

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