Nick Saban’s Breakdown Of An Alabama Coach’s Chaotic Annual Calendar Raises Severe Burnout Concerns

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College football coaches have always been a different breed, but Nick Saban’s most recent look at the day-to-day grind really puts things in perspective. The new era of the sport is exhausting.

Nick Saban’s annual schedule is a grind. (Photos by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Early Signing Period; Name, Image and Likeness; and the transfer portal have changed college football in a way that has not been so since the forward pass. The latter two go hand-in-hand to some extent, and all three components to the yearly calendar create an additional component to how things operate.

Previously, prior to NIL, the Early Signing Period and the portal, a coach’s schedule looked something like the following. It isn’t a perfect science, and every program did things differently, but this was the gist:

  • Summer workouts get underway in July.
  • Fall Camp begins in August.
  • College football season lasts from September to late November/early January depending on postseason success.
  • National Signing Day takes place in mid/late February.
  • “Off”season runs from February to March/April.
  • Spring practice in late March through April.
  • “Off”season continues from April to July.

That general timeline doesn’t include coaches/conference meetings, off-field obligations and things of that nature. And it’s not to say that coaches didn’t work hard before. They did— take Ed Orgeron’s efforts to get Adrian Peterson’s incarcerated father transferred from Texas to California, for example.

The new timeline is even more chaotic.

In the Early Signing Period, NIL and transfer portal era, the calendar is even crazier.

  • Summer workouts get underway in July.
  • Fall Camp begins in August.
  • College football season lasts from September to late November/early January depending on postseason success.
  • Early Signing Day happens in December, in the middle of bowl season.
  • First transfer portal window opens in early December and closes in late January, in the middle of bowl season.
  • National Signing Day takes place in mid/late February.
  • “Off”season lasts for about two weeks.
  • Spring practice in late March through April.
  • Second transfer portal window opens in mid-April and closes in late April.
  • “Off”season continues for about a month.

Again, that’s not exact, and it doesn’t include obligations like spring meetings, which took place last week for the SEC. Saban and the other Southeastern Conference coaches and athletic directors descended on Destin, but not for vacation.


Throughout the week, Saban spoke about a variety of topics from NIL to scheduling. One particular note stood out above the rest.

Saban told Peter Burns that Alabama tracked how many weeks that Crimson Tide coaches worked seven days in a week throughout the entire year. There are 52 weeks in a year. Alabama worked seven days a week during 44 of the 52 weeks.

Coaches in Tuscaloosa are not getting a day off during 85% of the year. That’s insane.

Nick Saban’s comments raise burnout concerns.

Coaching college football is not for the faint of heart.

The job requires coaches to be on the road or in the facility, away from family and friends, away from birthdays and anniversaries, and away from any sense of normalcy. It requires coaches to spend a lot of their free time building relationships with 16/22-year-olds who may end up playing on the other side of the ball. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of responsibilities.

There is no longer any time to take the foot off of the gas, and the lack of time away from the game is taking a toll on staffs across the country.

Matt Luke is the most recent example. The 46-year-old Ole Miss alumnus spent 18 years as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Murray State, Tennessee and Duke.

After Hugh Freeze was fired in 2017, Luke was named the interim head coach. He eventually got the full-time job and coached the Rebels through the 2019 season before joining the Georgia staff for two seasons as the offensive line coach and associate head coach.

And then he stepped away.

Luke was done with the grind. His kids are young and he wanted to spend more time with them before they went off to college and left the nest. Can you blame him?

Kliff Kingsbury is another example. Although he is currently back in the college game as an analyst and quarterbacks coach at USC, he said back in March of 2022 that he would rather do “any job” before returning to the college grind after spending time on an NFL schedule.

It’s full-time now [in college] with the social media and you’re either tweeting, calling, Facetiming and there’s like this constant anxiety, because if you’re not doing it, the university down the street is. It just never goes away. [In the NFL], when you’re done with the football, you’re done, you go live your life. College, it just never goes away.

— Kliff Kingsbury, via The Pat McAfee Show

Kingsbury said it, Luke said it, Saban said it. Coaching college football is exhausting. Burnout is real.

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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