Nick Saban spoke to his confidant Chris Low at ESPN Thursday and he is fully supporting his former team during the transition.

Low wrote, "He wasn't playing golf, planning a vacation or even sleeping in for an extra hour. Like every other morning for the past 17 years as Alabama's football coach, he was driving to the office -- always there by 7:20 a.m. sharp at the latest."

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Here's what Saban told Lowe: "I want to be there for the players, for the coaches, anything I can do to support them during this transition.

"There are a lot of things to clean up, to help as we move forward. I'm still going to have a presence here at the university in some form and trying to figure out all that and how it works. This is a place that will never be too far away from Miss Terry's and my hearts."

Regarding yesterday's meeting with the team, Saban said, "I wanted them to know how much they meant to me. It was hard, all of it was. The last few days have been hard. But look, it's kind of like I told the players. I was going to go in there and ask them to get 100 percent committed to coming back and trying to win a championship, but I've always said that I didn't want to ride the program down, and I felt whether it was recruiting or hiring coaches, now that we have people leaving, the same old issue always sort of came up -- how long are you going to do this for?"

Low also spoke in the story to Jeff Allen, Alabama's head athletic trainer, the only full timer besides Cedric Burners that has been with Saban all 17 years.

Said Allen: "This is one of those days you knew was going to come, but when it does, you're still somewhat in shock that it finally has come.

"I don't want to say it was a grieving process, because he's still here, but what's helped us process it all is how he's managed it. He's in the office today and wants to still be a part of this place. It was special for me this morning when I was with him, just hearing him talk about how important it was for him for Alabama to continue to be successful. That means the world to all of us who are here and love this place and want to see what he's built continue to grow."

Saban, 72, said health concerns factored into the decision. He told Low, "Last season was difficult for me from just a health standpoint, not necessarily having anything major wrong, but just being able to sustain and do things the way I want to do them, the way I've always done them.

"It just got a little bit harder. So you have to decide, 'OK, this is sort of inevitable when you get to my age.'"

Saban also told Low that it would have been unfair to everybody to keep saying that he was going to be at Alabama for four or five more years.

"Which I would have been happy to try to do, but I just didn't feel like I could do that and didn't want to get into a year-to-year deal that doesn't help anybody and doesn't help you continue to build and be at the standard that I want to be at and want this program to be at," Saban said.

As for interviewing potential assistants as late as Wednesday afternoon, Saban explained, "It's the way I've always done things. You keep working right up until it's time to walk away. I think when you get away from doing what you've always done, you're never going to be as effective. And that's just sort of it. I knew it was time."

Saban told Low his disdain for NIL and the Portal were NOT behind the decision.

"Don't make it about that. It's not about that," Saban said. "To me, if you choose to coach, you don't need to be complaining about all that stuff. You need to adjust to it and adapt to it and do the best you can under the circumstances and not complain about it. Now, I think everybody is frustrated about it. We had an SEC conference call, 14 coaches on there [Wednesday], and there's not one guy you can talk to who really understands what's happening in college football and thinks that it's not an issue.

"But this [his retirement] ain't about that. We've been in this era for three years now, and we've adapted to it and won in this era, too. It's just that I've always known when it would be time to turn it over to somebody else, and this is that time."

Asked by Low if retirement would lower his golf handicap, Saban replied with a laugh, "I don't think that's going to happen, but we'll be able to play more than we used to."

"There's a lot I can do and a lot I want to do. There's life after football, but I'm always going to be here for Alabama however they need me."

Allen told Low Saban was doing somewhat of a 'Farewell Tour' Thursday morning.

Low wrote, "Allen met privately with Saban Thursday morning and said his longtime boss paused briefly before telling Allen how much he had meant to him.

"But he's been doing that all morning with everybody, literally walking around and thanking people," Allen said. "One of our custodians came up to me and said how much she was going to miss him and miss cleaning his office and how well he had treated her. People don't always see that side of him. "But all this being said, we also know what he wants us to do is to move on in the right way and help the new coach to continue to be successful, and that's the way we can best honor coach Saban."

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Gallery Credit: Mary K

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