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Paul Finebaum thinks Dabo Swinney is ‘only person’ who can replace Nick Saban


Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no indication that Alabama coach Nick Saban is going anywhere anytime soon, but ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum thinks there’s only one person who can replace him when that time comes.

Finebaum thinks Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ticks all the boxes Alabama would be looking for, and that as it stands, he’s the only option for the Crimson Tide when the 66-year-old Saban ultimately calls it a day.

“Who knows when Saban’s day will come, but I’m going to put a couple chips down on the long-shot now,” Finebaum told The RoundTable on JOXFM, via Brad Crawford of 247 Sports. “It’s no longer off the board. I saw it. His wife grew up in Alabama. His family is from Alabama. That will be a fascinating gravitational pull when Alabama calls and says, ‘OK, Dabo. It’s time to come home.’ I don’t know if it’s as absolute as it was a couple months ago.

“I’m probably going to upset somebody here, but you get right down to it, it’s Alabama versus Clemson. It’s no contest. If you’re thinking about, ‘OK, where do I really want to be long-term,’ and I think because he’s from Alabama, I’m going to keep pushing that ball up the hill. And the fact that he’s already won that championship … Nobody wants to replace Saban — it’s an impossible task, but I will say this, before anyone says it’s impossible to replace Nick Saban, I think the only person who can replace Nick Saban is Dabo Swinney.”

It may well be a while before Saban decides to retire, and if he even coaches five more years, a lot can change. After all, five years ago, Swinney probably wouldn’t have been near the top of anyone’s list of potential Saban replacements. He would be a logical choice now, but who knows what the state of college football will be when Saban leaves the scene.

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