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Paul Finebaum Thinks 4 Coaches Could Replace Nick Saban

Alabama head coach Nick Saban looks on during the SEC Championship.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 04: Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on before the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One day, Nick Saban will retire. When that day finally comes, Alabama will have to find his replacement. Paul Finebaum already has four names in mind.

The first is Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. This is probably the most obvious choice. You could make the argument he's peaked at Clemson and might want a fresh start elsewhere. However, his recent reluctance to accept major changes - including NIL and the transfer portal - is a red flag.

"Four years ago, I would've told you he'd be the overwhelming pick to be, of a group like. He's not anymore," Finebaum said, via 247Sports. "Now, what's happened? I don't know. A lot of things have happened. But the answer was there really isn't an answer right now. And timing is really critical."

If not Swinney, who's next in line for the job? Finebaum is considering three more names: Lane Kiffin, Billy Napier and Mario Cristobal.

Kiffin might be too big a wild card for such a prestigious program like Alabama. He has some red flags in his past and would be quite a reverse in strategy from Saban.

Napier and Cristobal is where things get a bit more interesting. Saban has endorsed Napier several times over the years. His first year at Florida will be under a microscope by Alabama boosters.

"Somebody mentioned Billy Napier, if he has success. Billy Napier is well liked. But three years ago, Jeremy Pruitt was well liked and considered to be a favorite. He's now persona non grata. So you just don't know. Things change very quickly. People emerge, people come and go."

Cristobal, meanwhile, is a former Alabama assistant turned former Oregon head coach turned now Miami head coach. He's an unbelievable recruiter, but is still growing as an Xs and Os coach.

"Another name that has come up, that I think is somewhat out of the contention, is Mario Cristobal," Finebaum said. "He's well liked at Alabama, too. It's hard to imagine, after leaving to go to Oregon and now coming to Miami, it's even conceivable he could make another move."

One day Saban will call it a career. Hopefully for Alabama's sake, he doesn't for a long time. There are not many good replacement options out there right now.