“So Dean, Roy, Nick …. and BobLee walk into a bar and ….”

Dean Roy Nick ...
January15/ 2024
BL Rimshots

January 15, 2024


I chose a title today that has been the opening line for “a whole buncha …” jokes over the past centuries.  Make it “a priest, a rabbi and a preacher walk into …” or make the bar “…. in a lifeboat …”. 

It seemed a clever way to combine four guys with something in common.  Sure, only one is “an Internet Legend” but the other three gained notoriety in their own career pursuits.

When NIck Saban announced his retirement last week, I immediately thought of Dean Smith in 1997 … and Roy Williams more recently in 2021.   

Yes, I coulda shoulda included Mike Krzyzewski but there were not that many open seats at my mythical bar.

All 3 (4) Hall of Fame coaches retired on their own terms … none under any pressure to do so.  And, I will maintain, for variations of the same reason.


Each saw that their chosen occupation – college coaching – was about to – in the early stages of – undergoing a MASSIVE change.   A massive change that they – despite their well-earned prominence – could not affect or even delay … change(s) that would require them to make wholesale changes in how they operated their highly successful programs.

Their Hall of Fame prominence already well-earned many times over, Dean, Roy, Mike, Nick had nothing left to “prove” to themselves, to their peers, or to the sport they had dedicated their adult lives to.

Dean Smith was “only” 66 … Roy, Mike, Nick in their early/mid 70s …  all in good health, secure financially and capable of enjoying the rest of their lives with their family, friends and in whatever secondary pursuits they might choose …  be it the golf course, media studio, memoirs et al.

All four thereby avoiding being “Willie Mays as a Met”.  


When the “Say Hey Kid’s” contract was up with the SF Giants after 21 years, he chose to sign with the NY Mets at the age of 41 … returning to NYC where he had begun his HOF career in 1950. 

That decision did not end well as his once unparalleled skills had sorely diminished … ending in his embarrassing fall-down while chasing a routine flyball in Shea Stadium.


Dean Smith … in the Spring of 1997, Dean saw his two superstars – Jerry Stackhouse & Rasheed Wallace – “opt out” as sophomores for The NBA.  He had had numerous players leave early – with his blessing – after their Junior years over the previous dozen years but Stackhouse & Wallace were the first to do so after only two years.  

The modifications in the NBA / NCAA relationship would quickly lead to the One & Done Era.  Smith’s incredible 35+ years of success had been built on the “We Are A Family” concept with even Michael Jordan “paying his dues as an underclassman” as Larry Miller, Charlie Scott, Phil Ford and so many others had done over the years … earning their star stature over at least three years if not all four.

Two years, not to mention ONE, was simply not adaptable to the foundation of his success.  And he knew he could not fight “what was coming”.

Yes, there was the secondary factor in the abrupt timing of Smith’s “I’m retiring” announcement.   He wanted to insure that his faithful assistant – Bill Guthridge – got several years as Head Coach to assure his well-deserved enhanced pension.

With two National Championships and over 800 Wins … Dean Smith had nothing left to “prove” in his profession.  Retooling to fit the sea-change “that was coming” was unecessary … if not impossible.

NOTE:  Many of you reading this are itching to scream “UNCheats” and Coach Smith’s involvement in the Af-Am Eligibility Scandal.  I’m written extensively on my opinion of “that”.   The issue of his deification as “St. Dean” is irrelevant to the subject at hand.


Roy Williams … eerily similar to Dean Smith twenty years earlier … Ol’ Roy saw NIL / Portal coming like an out-of-control freight train … that he could not stop or even slow down.  Roy had adapted his program to the One&Done Era but NIL/Portal was/is a WHOLE other Nuclear threat to college sports.

Like his mentor … Roy had his own HOF achievements duly recorded with nothing left to prove to anyone.  In good health and financially secure … the lure of “time with family” … and golf any time he chose was preferable to “being Willie Mays as a Met” and dealing with the indignities of NIL / Portal.


Certainly the same can be said for “Coach K” in his timing to retire.  An even more illustrious resume than Dean and Roy … Coach K had adjusted very successfully to One&Done … but NIL/Portal is something else altogether to have to deal with in his mid-70s.

As with Dean and Roy … Mike was able to “have input” (YA THINK!) in choosing his successor.  And orchestrating ALMOST every aspect of his retirement.   The “almost” being … well, you know …


And now Nick Saban … different sports but otherwise exactly the same scenarioas above.  What does Nick Saban have left to prove as a Major College Football Coach?  Absolutely nothing.

Big Time College Football – and MBB is now under the iron-fists’ of – (1) – 18-20 year old young black men … and – (2) – “Fat Cat” boosters willing to throw away millions for bragging rights at their country clubs. …. sigh.

Coaches are easily disposable necessities in such a wacky world…  We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

As with Dean, Roy and Mike, Nick’s awesome resume has generated its share of “Haters” because thats how it works in the sports fan world.  Those hard-core “Haters” always crawl our from under their rocks to chortle and snort when highly successful individuals “retire” … conjuring up all manner of silly conspiracy theories about “why”. …. A pox on all such human hairballs.

You might recall, I always kidded Rush that when he finally hung up The Golden Microphone after 30+ years of unparalleled success, his Haters would snort “I told you he would never last …”.  And sure ’nuff, they did.  That ilk ain’t hard to predict …

I saw a YouTube post yesterday morning from some card-carrying sicko galoot about how much he HATED “The Cowboys” … Jerry Jones … and Bill Belichek.  I’m betting his HATE List is much longer than that.  Like with “purple cows” … better to “see one” than to “be one” when it comes to HATERS of prominent sports figures.


Q:  OK, BobLee … everything you say above is Truth … as always … but how come YOU are in that bar with those retired guys?

A:  I figured you’d ask that.  Because I can’t turn back the rushing tide of change any more than “those guys” could.

For 24 years I have railed and occasionally ranted about “board monkeys” … those dim-witted evolutionary throwbacks that infest every sports fan base with their depressed ALLCAPS keys and posted ridiculousities.  With what result … sigh

I coulda been an Orkin Man for 24 years railing about cockroaches …. they gonna be here when I’m long gone.  But, by golly, I stomped amany of’em over the years.

… and like Texas Ranger Gus McRae to Woodrow Call … “Its been a helluva party, hadn’t it, Woodrow”.

I’m not planning on going anywhere YET … but there will come a day.


Did Dean – Roy – Mike – Nick “see it coming”?  How far out?  Were they visionary enough to know it would “someday”? 

Did they simply wake up one morning and THERE IT WAS … Their World had radically changed … and no one asked their permission for it to do so?   Dunno …


More of BobLee’s Rimshots – HERE

There’s been a slight alteration to Ye Olde Website …. More about THAT later.

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