Jan 11, 2024 - Sports

What football's losing with the departure of three legendary coaches

New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft and now-former head coach Bill Belichick embrace during a press conference on Thursday.

New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft and now-former head coach Bill Belichick embrace during a press conference on Thursday. Photo: Steven Senne/AP

With a series of dramatic announcements over the past 24 hours, three of football's legendary coaches — Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Pete Carroll — left their long-held jobs and identities behind.

Why it matters: The trio have dominated college and professional football over the last two-plus decades, and the teams they've coached have defined the sport for generations of fans.

What's happening: Belichick is out as the head coach of the New England Patriots after 24 seasons — and one of the most successful dynasties in history, Axios Boston's Mike Deehan writes.

  • Alabama's Nick Saban, perhaps the best college coach ever, retired yesterday. He won seven national championships in his 28-year coaching career — six with the Crimson Tide and one at LSU.
  • Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll — one of just three head coaches to win a college national championship (at USC) and a Super Bowl ring — was unexpectedly canned.

🔎 Zoom in: Between the three coaches, there are 17 combined national championships and Super Bowl wins. True to their identity as legends, each had a mystique that went beyond football tactics and strategy.

  • Belichick's mien evoked a grumpy lobster boat captain, "grimacing on the New England sideline like he's miles from shore in a storm," Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay writes.
  • Saban stoically built Alabama into a team that was feared. Everyone else in the sport grew tired of his winning ways.
  • Carroll — at least in football terms — was something of a hippy. He talked about leading teams in a "loving, compassionate, empathetic way."

Between the lines: Belichick, 71, wants to remain an NFL head coach and will likely look for another job, ESPN reports. Carroll will remain with the Seahawks as an adviser.

Go deeper