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Fox Sports’ Tim Brando weighs in as three legendary coaching eras conclude

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In 24 hours, three coaching legends announced they would no longer prowl the sidelines for the teams they’ve become synonymous with. 

Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks since 2010, announced Wednesday afternoon he and the organization had “mutually agreed to set a new course,” though he’ll remain with the Seahawks as an adviser. 

Bill Belichick speaks during a press conference

Head coach Bill Belichick, left, of the New England Patriots speaks to the media as owner Robert Kraft looks on during a press conference at Gillette Stadium Jan. 11, 2024, in Foxborough, Mass. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, seven-time national champion Nick Saban announced his retirement after 17 seasons as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide

And on Thursday morning, six-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots agreed to move on after 24 remarkable seasons. 

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Three legendary coaching eras ended with the snap of a finger. 

Tim Brando, a college football and college basketball play-by-play man for Fox Sports, spoke with Fox News Digital following the flood of coaching news.

“These guys are really my generation guys,” Brando said of Carroll and Saban. “They are about two to three years older than me, but their careers grew as I was growing. So, I got to meet them at different levels, of different stages of their path. 

“They all have a common thread in that they were passionate about what they did and absolutely loved what they did. And even when the job itself, because of the world changing, had to change along with it, they all adapted. They all found a way to adapt.” 

Carroll, who became a household name due to his run as head coach of the USC Trojans, dodged the question Wednesday when asked if he would entertain another head coaching job if the right opportunity presented itself.

“Today is about today,” he said. 

Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks throws the ball

Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks throws before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field Dec. 2, 2019, in Seattle. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Brando discussed his time covering Saban and Belichick, one day after the greatest college coach of all time called it a career and shortly following the news that Belichick and New England parted ways. 

“Nick was conveniently aloof at first glance, but he would always, when you got some serious one-on-one time with him, he would be very respectful and allowed you to see the other side of him,” Brando told Fox News Digital. “Saban was Belichick in so many ways.”

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Saban and Belichick go back a long way, coaching together four seasons with the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s and continuing their friendship as the years have gone by.  

“My broadcasting brethren would always say when they met with Bill, they didn’t do it really to find out anything because they all knew what he was going to do … he used it as a time to tell stories,” Brando said of Belichick. 

“He was just a storyteller in those meetings. That part of him is there, but the only people that really got to see that were the football people that were intrinsically a part of the organization of football. The people that were covering the game that were going to talk about his team, he wanted to have a good relationship with. 

“He was actually a lot of times more conversational than Nick would be in those environments. Saban, I think, was a lot more serious in those situations when talking with broadcasters than even Bill was. There’s a contrast between the two and they were so thick.” 

Brando recalled a visit to Saban’s home in 2003 for a television show he was a part of, when a phone call from Belichick delayed their discussion. 

“I got there and outside he was waiting, and then he got a call from Bill while I was there,” Brando said.  

“He takes the call, and I’m like, ‘No problem, we got time.’ And Miss Terry [Saban’s wife] kept us entertained, and I do mean entertained, for like 25 minutes while he was talking to Belichick,” Brando added. “Of what I have no idea, but that’s how thick they were. They talked all the time. I mean all the time. About everything. Shared all kinds of different conversations.”

Nick Saban leads his team onto the field

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban leads his team onto the field before the start of the CFP semifinal Rose Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, Calif.  (John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brando praised Saban, who used to join Brando on his radio show while coaching LSU, for being able to take criticism from those in the media who “cared as much about the sport as he did.”

“It’s not like every time he did something I praised him. I was very critical of him. I was probably more critical of Nick Saban than anybody in terms of broadcast television. But I felt like I could because he didn’t care what I thought about what he did,” Brando told Fox News Digital with a chuckle. “He was that secure in his own skin that anyone he respected could take shots at him, and it wasn’t going to change his respect for them. 

“That is a quality that is very unique. That’s something you just do not see in most modern-day coaches. Their egos will not allow that. They’re just too thin-skinned to be criticized.”

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While Belichick’s future appears to be on the sideline as he wants to continue coaching, Saban’s future is less clear, though Saban told ESPN Thursday he’ll be around to help Alabama transition to the next coach. 

“One of the things I talked to him a lot about was life after football,” Brando said of his past conversations with Saban. “So, I feel like I have a pretty unique view of what’s next for him. What he could do or should do perhaps with the rest of his life as it relates to college football.”

Brando said he sat down with Saban in the spring of 2016 and brought up his belief that college football needed an individual to provide future guardrails to keep the sport intact, with Saban saying he would be interested in “helping to shape the future of college football” once he was done coaching. 

Nick Saban coaches against Michigan

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines during the CFP semifinal Rose Bowl Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, Calif.  (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“Beyond just the TV thing, or whether he does ‘GameDay’ … whether he does or he doesn’t, to me is of no consequence,” Brando said of Saban’s future after coaching. “I think he would be the perfect guy to help the different commissioners who, for reasons that we’re well aware of, sometimes can be at odds with one another, all right? 

“To mediate, arbitrate and help provide — with NIL and with the transfer portal — help provide some specific guardrails because he knows what these kids are about. He understands what their needs are in ways that the suits don’t and never have. 

“He’s one of the few guys that can walk into the kind of room that has nothing but commissioners in it and can also walk into the room with nothing but players in it and talk their language. To me, that’s why you’re seeing everyone say what they say about their respect for him. 

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“I just don’t see him going out on a boat in Georgia or in a new house on a golf course in Jupiter, Florida, playing golf with Tiger Woods and just vegging out. I do not see that at all with him. I think he’s going to play a significant role in college football’s short- and long-term future with whatever time he’s got left.” 

Saban and Belichick have 13 championships between them and are widely considered the greatest to coach at the college football and NFL levels.

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