Will Saban return to the NFL?

There will always be chatter about Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s future. When you are a winner, people care (see Urban Meyer.) Nobody cares about Gene Chizik at Auburn, and the only conversation about LSU’s Les Miles is how soon the LSU Tigers will be able to dump him.

This means the question of Nick Saban and the NFL is raised on a regular basis. The national championship has amplified it.

So, will Nick Saban return to the NFL? Xtrapointfootball.com says yes. According to Bob Bearden, “The moment Saban feels the Crimson Tide may not have a shot to vie for the National Championship, expect Saban to embark on another stint in the NFL to take care of unfinished business.”

But what does Nick Saban say about it? He told the Sporting News, “You know, with all that we’ve been through and all that we’ve done … I think we’re really satisfied having the opportunity to be in that kind of university-spirit, community setting that we’re in right now. I think at this stage we’re more interested in happiness and feeling self-fulfilled with how we affect the community, give back to the community, help the players and the program, than really thinking about doing something different professionally.”

But is there something that would make Nick Saban return to the NFL?

Xtrapointfootball.com suggests ego. They write, “If you know anything about Saban, you know that he has an ego the size of Texas. He hears all the talk about how he is one of the greatest college coaches in history but can’t be successful in the NFL. What do you think is going through his mind when he hears that?”

Saban has an ego the size of Texas?

Probably. Most football coaches do. I’ve seen in at every level and that includes high school. But the question isn’t Saban’s ego, but whether ego would override his experience, or more precisely, would the need to be viewed as a winner in the NFL trump his better judgment.

While the NFL is a fun game, it is organized around one principle—socialism. The draft rewards failure. College football’s recruiting seems more suited to Saban’s relentless desire to win both on the field and in the personnel game. He enjoys recruiting. Does anyone think he enjoyed the draft? Or looking at free agents?

The personnel game is different in college football and the NFL. The NFL depends almost completely on one position—quarterback. If you miss on the quarterback then you are in trouble.

Saban addressed some of that in the same Sporting News interview. “We had an opportunity to get a quarterback in Drew Brees or Daunte Culpepper and probably missed out on the physical well-being of those two players; we took the guy that we felt was more healthy, and he wasn’t healthy. No disrespect to him; he did the best he could, Daunte Culpepper. Drew Brees didn’t have any problems and ended up having a great career. Had that been different, I think we’d have made our team a lot better. We didn’t have a quarterback the second year, and it affected our ability to be successful. But we made improvements as a team; we made improvements on defense.”

But those improvements as a team were secondary to the failure at quarterback. As a coach that must be the most frustrating feeling—to know that the process is working, but the difficulty in landing a top quarterback prevents you from competing. In other words, you need a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to compete against a Brady or a Manning. How often do you get the chance to land a quarterback of that caliber? When you do get a chance like with Brees, it comes with significant risk.

College recruiting provides less risk and more reward. You can take a chance on a Star Jackson and know that the next year another quarterback will be available. Just look at what Alabama’s quarterback recruiting has done. AJ McCarron recruited one year. The year after a quarterback like Phillip Sims joined the Crimson Tide. Will those quarterbacks pan out? It doesn’t matter as much because you can recruit another four or five-star quaterback next year.

Would Saban return to the NFL to a team without a quality quarterback? Based on his experience, it would be highly doubtful. And how many teams have a settled quarterback and need a coach?

Another question that would confront Saban’s return to the NFL would be the subject of control. Saban had total control in Miami. Would another owner be likely to hand Saban control after the issues in Miami? A desperate owner might, but desperate is not a situation that Saban would covet. Desperate usually means poor ownership. A good situation would likely mean an active ownership that knows what it is doing. This would likely mean less control. He would surrender the control he wields at Alabama to enter a realm where he would have less power. That doesn’t sound like something Nick Saban would do.

And that is something you must understand in evaluating the talk of Nick Saban and the NFL. It might sound good talking about Saban and the NFL, but the situation would need to be perfect and he would need to ignore his own experience. Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? Not based on Saban’s personality and history. Things would need to change at Alabama for the NFL to be a real threat; it would need to be real change and not just under-performance like xtrapointfootball.com suggested.

18 Comments

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  1. 1
    jaydeer

    I don’t understand why people continue to write about the possibility/probability of Nick Saban’s returning to the NFL. I think Coach Saban has made it perfectly clear that the only thing that would lure him from Alabama is retirement in a few years to Lake Burton.
    I suppose the reason for such continued speculation is a drought in stories of interest about which to write at this time of the year.
    Give it up, Alan. Coach Saban’s love of recruiting and teaching/coaching at the college level and the pursuit of more national championships will keep him and his family firmly embedded in the UA football community.

  2. 2
    capstonereport

    I’m not the one writing about it. I’m explaining that he won’t head to the NFL because of his personality.

  3. 3
    capstonereport

    One other thing. You need to look beyond what Saban says and into the person. What motivates him?

    Control because that is how he wins.

    Satisfaction because we all want that from our job.

    Now those things point to staying at Alabama, in my opinion. What Saban says is just icing on the cake.

  4. 4
    julio

    Don’t kid yourself. Saban would leave for the NFL if he found an opportunity where he felt he could win a championship. You can also win in the NFL without a world beater for a qb. That’s just a tired excuse used over and over to justify Saban’s failure with the Dolphins. The Bears got to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman, and Eli Manning certainly didn’t set the world on fire the year the Giants won the Super Bowl. God knows Trent Dilfer was nothing but a game manager. I think your point about giving up power is your best argument, but if somebody wants him bad enough they’ll give him what he wants.

    BTW, why do you continue to cite what Saban says about what he intends to do as evidence of whether he’ll leave or not?? He’s already blatantly lied about coming to Bama. Would you expect him to say anything different even if he knew he might be leaving next week?

  5. 5
    capstonereport

    Julio, I’d only trust what someone says when it fits into the overall portrait of his personality.

    I don’t think he’ll go to the NFL largely because his style doesn’t really fit the NFL reality of today.

    I don’t think anyone can argue QB play is the most important thing to winning in the NFL. Just look at what happened in Indy on fourth down. The opposing QB dictated that play.

    Now, the year Eli Manning went to the Super Bowl and Grossman took the Bears, both threw for over 3,000 yards during the season. They weren’t great, but they did make plays. As for Dilfer, I can’t really remember about him, but I’ll agree he wasn’t an elite player.

  6. 6
    jaydeer

    I know a lie is a lie is a lie, but persistent rumors and persistent reporters coerced him into the lie to attempt to get them off the subject.
    Yeah, I think I would expect him to “say anything different even if he knew he might be leaving next week”. He’s in a completely different situation now than the one when he left Miami. No comparison. Also, I think the latter part of your last sentence is a moot point…

  7. 9
    BPI

    I dont think The Saban will be leaving anytime soon.

    He has what he wants….Control…He also has 3/4 of the state now worshiping the ground he walks on..Not to mention a statue for all the rednecks to bow down and worship on Saturdays….

  8. 10
    DAMAGE INC.

    BPI — I’m so sorry that Aubarn has nothing to hang its hat on. The only crystal (or anything resembling shiny) will be the broken whiskey bottle on the side of Jordan-Hare due to losing.

    Not the Crimson Tide’s fault Aubarn doesn’t have history/tradition/statues. Well — maybe it is our fault in some way … suckers.

    Tide Rollin through punk asses like yourself as usual … bling.

  9. 11
    julio

    Jaydeer, so you’re saying Saban will only lie if he has a reason to lie? You don’t think convincing recruits creates a reason to lie? I know all you bammers want to slough off Saban’s unprecedented one-way buyout like it’s nothing, but it was something he specifically demanded and it wasn’t a a customary thing to request. He wouldn’t have demanded it unless he was at least considering the possibility of leaving at some point down the road.

  10. 12
    ITK

    Pray, Julio; pray you’re right.

    In the meantime, we’ll just keep pounding Aubies like you into the ground for the foreseeable future.

  11. 13
    yellowhammer

    ITK,dont blame the awbrums, wouldn’t you be hoping for a miracle if your team didn’t have the balls to go out and win it on an even field?

  12. 14
    julio

    ITK, are you under the grossly mistaken impression that your last post addressed the issue at hand in any way, shape, form or fashion? Believe it or not, some times it takes more than regurgitating “Auburn sucks” or “Cheese-nip” or “dipsy-doo” to contribute to a discussion. Concentrate ITK.

  13. 15
    ITK

    Everyone here (but you, obviously) plainly sees your pathetic desperation for Nick Saban to leave so that Auburn has a chance in the series again.

    Now quick, continue with your redundant droning about something or other that the rest of us here dismiss immediately.

  14. 16
    Ingram is Wearing a Bullseye | BamaFootball4Life

    […] So, will Nick Saban return to the NFL? Xtrapointfootball.com says yes. According to Bob Bearden, “The moment Saban feels the Crimson Tide may not have a shot to vie for the National Championship, expect Saban to embark on another stint in the NFL to take care of unfinished business.” But what does Nick Saban say about it? He told the Sporting News, “You know, with all that we’ve been through and all that we’ve done … I think we’re really satisfied having the opportunity to be in that kind of university-spirit, community setting that we’re in right now. I think at this stage we’re more interested in happiness and feeling self-fulfilled with how we affect the community, give back to the community, help the players and the program, than really thinking about doing something different professionally.” [More] […]

  15. 17
    jaydeer

    Julio, The “one-way buy-out” was all about “CONTROL”. That’s the “Saban way”.
    I don’t feel the “coerced” lie (and, no, it doesn’t seem to be affecting his recruiting) about Alabama while Saban was ending the season at Miami deserves being addressed any more. Why “beat a dead horse to death”…?

  16. 18
    Crimsonite from the planet Crimson in a galaxyfarfar away. FormerlyE.G. White

    Julietta, do you jack-off to your fantasies about Saban leaving Bama? Bwaa Haww Haww! RTR!

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