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How Nick Saban's retirement could impact Kentucky

Saban’s departure will send shockwaves across college football. Will some of them reach Lexington?

NCAA Football: Alabama at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The college football world was hit with a major shocker Wednesday afternoon when Nick Saban retired as head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

That move will likely have a major ripple effect on the sport between potential coaching changes, current Tide players entering the transfer portal, and Bama class of 2024 recruits reopening their recruitments.

That domino effect may very well make its way to Lexington for Kentucky Football. Here’s how.

Rico Scott

With Saban out, expect there to be several class of 2024 Alabama recruits who back off their pledge and hit the open market.

One such name could be 4-star wide receiver Rico Scott, someone Kentucky badly wanted and appeared to be very close to flipping from Alabama, but he ultimately signed with the Tide on National Signing Day.

However, he’s not an early enrollee, so it would be very easy for him to get out of his national letter of intent and sign with another program.

If that happens, Kentucky figures to be a strong suitor for the talented wideout who also held offers from Georgia, Penn State, and Michigan, among many others.

Plenty of Alabama recruits have scholarship offers from Kentucky, but Scott is the only one Kentucky was a major player for in the 2024 cycle.

Mark Stoops

With Saban retiring, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops is the longest-tenured coach in the SEC at 11 seasons, followed by Kirby Smart at eight seasons. The next highest is Lane Kiffin, Sam Pittman, and Eliah Drinkwitz, all at three seasons.

Kentucky actually now has the longest-tenured men’s basketball and football coaches.

But is there a chance Stoops could be on the move?

I seriously doubt Alabama will consider Stoops to be their next head coach, but the ripple effect of Saban leaving could make things interesting if a coaching carousel gets going and several schools end up needing replacements.

Florida State’s Mike Norvell could be a candidate for Alabama, especially with a relatively small buyout compared to other candidates. If Norvell were to be hired by Alabama or another school, Stoops would likely be in contention for the FSU opening after serving as the school’s defensive coordinator from 2010-12.

Saying this, I don’t think Kentucky is in any real danger of losing Stoops. But after the Texas A&M saga, it can’t be dismissed.

More Transfer Options

Because Saban is out, the NCAA will allow Alabama players to enter the transfer portal for the next 30 days, so Kentucky could have more potential portal targets very soon.

It’s probably a coincidence, but Kentucky landed Alabama safety Kristian Story out of the portal on the same day Saban retired. If nothing else, Story could help recruit what’s sure to be more Bama guys entering the portal in the coming days and weeks.

While Kentucky has a solid roster, it could still use some more depth at offensive line, safety, cornerback, and edge rusher. And Kentucky still hasn’t gotten a decision from D’Eryk Jackson on if he’ll return for a final season, so linebacker could become a need if he goes pro.