(CNN) — Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose seven career national championships are the most by a head coach at NCAA football’s highest level, is retiring, the school said Wednesday in a news release.

“It is not just about how many games we won and lost, but it’s about the legacy and how we went about it,” Saban said in the school’s announcement. “We always tried to do it the right way. The goal was always to help players create more value for their future, be the best player they could be and be more successful in life because they were part of the program. Hopefully, we have done that, and we will always consider Alabama our home.”

Saban, 72, retires as the football head coach with the most national titles in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. In his 17 seasons at Alabama, Saban won six national titles. He also guided Louisiana State to a shared title when he was with the Tigers in 2003.

Alabama was 12-2 this year, losing to eventual national champion Michigan 27-20 in overtime in a College Football Playoff semifinal last week. It was the 12th time in the past 16 seasons Alabama had won at least 12 games.

“Simply put, Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time, in any sport, and The University of Alabama is fortunate to have had him leading our football program for the past 17 seasons,” Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said. “He is the consummate coach, mentor and leader, and his impact is felt far beyond the football field.”

In his head coaching career, he was 292-71-1 at Alabama, LSU, Michigan State and Toledo. His teams went to bowls or the Bowl Championship Series title game in 25 of his 28 seasons, and he never had a year with a losing record.

Colorado Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders, who appears in insurance commercials with Saban, appeared to believe NCAA bylaws changes giving players more leeway to cash in on their sports prowess and to change schools were influential in Saban’s decision.

“WOW!” Colorado coach Deion Sanders posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “College Football just lost the GOAT to retirement. WOW! I knew it would happen 1 day soon but not this soon. The game has changed so much that it chased the GOAT away. College football, let’s hold up our mirrors and say HONESTLY what u see.”

Saban’s first national title at Alabama, the second-winningest program in major college football, came in his third season, 2009. It was the traditional powerhouse’s first crown since 1992. Saban’s Crimson Tide teams also lifted title trophies in 2011-12, 2015, 2017 and 2020.

A record total 49 of Saban’s players have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, including former running back Mark Ingram II, who played professionally from 2011 to 2022.

“Coach Saban is the GOAT!! Thanks for believing in a young man from Flint, Michigan,” Ingram wrote on X. “Helped me become a champion on the field, but more importantly a champion in LIFE. Enjoy retirement Coach, you earned that!! Love you Coach Saban, ROLL TIDE!!”

Saban also was the head coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, going 15-17. Saban replaced Mike Shula at Alabama before the 2007 season.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox