Tuscaloosa will continue to grow, expand and thrive, even after the Wednesday retirement of the greatest college football coach in history.

That was the message from mayor Walt Maddox Thursday morning after he and the rest of the world had a night to process the news and brace for a future without Nick Saban at the helm of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Maddox joined the Steve & DC Morning Show on 95.3 the Bear Thursday morning to talk about Saban's retirement, how much Tuscaloosa owes to the Coach and Mrs. Terry Saban, and what the future might look like in their absence.

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Like anybody, Maddox said he's sad over the news, but also grateful to have lived in and led the city during Saban's unprecedented 17-year run at Alabama.

"There's a happiness to how blessed we've been to live this time and have this time and to have the Sabans - what an extraordinary couple who have made such an extraordinary difference," Maddox said. "And we - Tuscaloosa, Alabama - have had that shared moment and identity, and that's something worthy to celebrate."

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

But even as Tide fans and area residents almost mournfully reflect on our time with the Sabans, Maddox wasn't ready to write off the prosperity of the Druid City just yet.

"Let me just say this, because I believe it in my heart and soul - this is certainly an end of an era, but it's not the end of prosperity and growth," Maddox said. "I would imagine if Coach Saban was on this line, he would say 'Get your, uh, rear ends in gear! It's time to do more,' because he has given us a foundation we can build on in years to come, I have no doubt about it, and we shouldn't aim for less."

Maddox had the DJs roaring with laughter over sharp jokes about having a duck dinner with Dan Lanning at Chuck's Fish Wednesday night, but soon enough got serious and said the city's role is to be an attractive place for the next head football coach to adopt as Nick and Terry did, and to maintain the momentum brought on by his era at Alabama.

(Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Tuscaloosa Thread)

"I remember having this conversation with Mal Moore and we talked about it through the years," Maddox said. "We knew this day would come and it would be the end of the era. What we needed to do, from the city standpoint, was create a city that would help us recruit that next coach and that next group of players so that we continue on the upward trajectory because Coach Saban has given us that opportunity. Now, what are we going to do? Now it's in our hands."

Maddox said he's got no inside knowledge about the "real" reason behind Saban's retirement, or who the next coach might be. He wished Nick and Terry well and said they are, of course, permanently welcome here in Tuscaloosa.

He concluded by simply expressing confidence in this community and the leadership at the University of Alabama.

"We are a city and a university ready to meet the moment. And again, I don't think we should back away from expectations." Maddox said. "I don't want to speak for coach or Mrs. Terry but I think they would say, you need to believe you're going to be Number One next year. And the next year, and the next year."

Listen to the entire interview below, and for more news from City Hall and the University alike, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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