Is Nick Saban leaving Alabama? Six reasons that answer is “No.”

W ell, the season has been played, the awards been given, and the heralded Heisman has been assigned to a new recipient. It’s not quite the silly season…the period between the end of recruiting and the beginning of fall camp. But it’s close.

This time of year doesn’t really have a name. It’s the time between the last of the regular season games and award hooplah and the first bowl game. Radio and television talk shows have literally hours of show to fill without games to talk about. Sales staffs have promised advertisers listenership in return for their advertising dollar.

So what’s Mike and Mike and the like to do? Make up stuff at worst, run with loosely knitted speculation at best.

And in recent days, that’s what we’ve gotten.

Message boards in this state have been dominated by speculation that Nick Saban is leaving the Crimson Tide for the Cleveland Browns…or some other NFL team…that doesn’t currently have an opening.

What’s worse, a Boston columnist (who hasn’t so much as shaken hands with Nick Saban) took a recent radio interview with the coach’s wife to a fantastical extreme.

By now you’ve heard the story. That Terry Saban said winning has become more of a relief than a joy.

Nevermind that the two radio personalities conducting the interview…you know, actually interacting with Mrs. Saban…drew zero conclusions about the coach’s intentions of flying the coop. In fact, from the very interview Birmingham 97.3’s Scott Griffin and Kevin Scarbinsky concluded just the drastic opposite.

Still, it’s not these who are closest to the nucleus of the story with the loudest voice. It’s some yahoo in New England. And an ESPN radio personality whose son played for the Fighting Irish.

You can call that a conspiracy theory. I just call it simple fact.

Speaking of facts, the fact is, when you have a coach of Nick Saban’s caliber, there is going to be interest. I mean, like, every year.

There isn’t a single team in America, pro or amatuer, that wouldn’t take the man in with open arms.

In fact, I would wager all of my internal organs that if Nick Saban drove his Mercedes down to Lee County, arriving at Jay Jacobs’ home tonight, Gus Malzahn wouldn’t have a job in the morning.

Nick Saban was a wanted man before he resurrected Alabama’s proud football program from the ashes. Now that he’s made it a dominant power, contending for its third crystal trophy in four years, he’s downright irresistable. If you have an opening, or think you’re going to, you’re going to float a test balloon his way.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

I’ll put it like this. I clearly remember being 19 and going to the beach for the first time with a new girlfriend. She was striking, fully clothed. But my gosh, in a bikini it was unbearable. I had had good-looking girlfriends before, but not like this. What was even more unbearable was the attention she immediately got from every hairy-legged boy within eyesight of her. And I mean, with me sitting right next to her. It got old fast.

Then I remember my dad speaking words of wisdom to me. You don’t want to be with somebody nobody wants. And if you are going to be with somebody like that, you better get used to it. If she wants to be with you too, enjoy the ride. If not, life will go on.

Now over twenty years later, that girl is still with me…and it has been a fun ride.

There’s a reason why Nick Saban is a hot commodity, but being a hot commodity doesn’t mean he is leaving for another job. There will come a day when this ride will be over, at least with Saban at the helm. But most, including yours truly, believe that day will come at the hands of retirement, not another job.

Here’s why:

1.) Nick Saban doesn’t want to coach in the NFL again. Grant Guffin, the producer of “Nick Saban: Gamechanger,” got to know Saban better than most. His project gave him two months of unlimited access to him. And when I say unlimited, about the only place Saban didn’t permit he and co-producer Trey Reynolds to go with him was to the shower.

Guffin is also a friend, and when wrapping up the project he shared at length with me about his experience. The most telling point of this time was when he indicated that Nick and Terry had disdain for the pro game. Coach Saban said on more than one occasion to recruits, boosters and even Guffin himself “The biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my coaching career was going to the NFL.”

That doesn’t sound like a person wanting to take an NFL job.

2.) Nick Saban is now 61. A basic study of human development provides insight into the different seasons of life, and our psychological approaches and rationale in relation to those seasons.

When you’re in your sixties, you do either one of two things. You either (a.) reflect on your life with approval, staying the course and digging in for the final years before entering your golden years, or (b.) you look back on your life with regret, scurrying to make things right while you still can.

It’s hard to imagine anyone in Saban’s shoes not looking back on his life with satisfaction that his life has meant something. And assuming point #1 is correct, the man has nothing to regret and/or make right.

3.) At 61, Alabama is the first stop in his coaching career where Nick Saban has things 100% like he likes them. He has built…or rebuilt…a dynasty at maybe the most difficult place to do so. He has total control over every aspect of the Tide’s football operations.

That isn’t and won’t be the case in the NFL. You’re a hired hand, and if recruiting is your edge on the competition, you just threw it out the window. Bama was the first place Nick Saban ever achieved back-to-back 10+ win seasons. In fact, this year he’ll shelve his fifth in a row. If #2 is correct, why would you start over?

4.) Saban doesn’t want to coach anywhere that much longer. Guffin also indicated that he heard Saban on more than one occasion say he didn’t want to be another Bobby Bowden (coaching into his 80’s). So why would a man now in his sixties looking at retirement in a few years want to end his career on a project that will likely fail?

The Cleveland Browns are the Kentucky Wildcats (football’s version) of the NFL. It would take years to get the Browns to be competitive, changing the bad habits of grown men stuck in their ways who make more money than you do. Again, see #1.

5.) Terry Saban is happy in Tuscaloosa. One of the questions I wanted answered was about his relationship with Terry. Long before all the specials (this was 2010) about their relationship, Grant and his film partner Trey got to go inside the Saban’s lives together. Terry made them turkey sandwiches before filming a segment at their home on Lake Burton.

“They clearly love each other,” Guffin told me. “They are a team. Nick takes care of their livelihood, Terry takes care of their life.”

And everything we hear about Nick Saban being in control everywhere but at home? Well, he’s not lying. If Terry Saban is happy in Tuscaloosa after a lifetime of moving every five years (remember, ‘Bama is Saban’s longest head coaching stop in his career with six years and counting), then they’re staying in Tuscaloosa. And ironically, the very radio interview that fueled the Bostonian article and other speculation also yielded unquestionable proof that Terry Saban is extremely happy to call Tuscaloosa, Alabama home.

6.) NFL money is real. But Alabama money is too. It’s been said, how much is enough? For the common man, $6 Million a year is unfathomable. But if Saban wants $10 Million to stay at Bama, do you know what he’ll get?

I would argue that the man is underpaid as it is. Years ago I asked Linda Carper, owner of several Bama Fever stores in Alabama what business is like when the Tide is high and what it’s like when they’re down. When Bama is winning, it’s like Christmas all year.

The Crimson Tide football program is a money-filled black (or should I say, green) hole right now. It’s hard to imagine a better time in history to sell retail Alabama clothing and memorabilia. And remember, if officially licensed, guess who gets a nice cut of each sale?

In the midst of a recession, Bama built, completed and filled a 101,000+ seat stadium with crazy Bama fans willing to throw their last dollar at seeing another Alabama win.

The Alabama football program is healthy, and can pay whatever Jimmy Sexton tells them they need to ante up on to keep their head coach. If it even comes to that. Of course, I’m just speculating.

But that’s the point. We all are just speculating. Because we’re in the time of year when you do so.

Alabama fatigue has reached levels nobody thought possible seven years ago. And every talking head not from the SEC, or specifically, Alabama, wants change. And what fills airwaves…attracting listeners and advertising dollars…like creating and fueling speculation about college football’s biggest adversary?

There will come a day when Nick Saban hangs it up in Tuscaloosa. And when it does, like dad told me about a pretty blonde thing years ago, life will still go on. I just don’t believe that day is yet here.

Like my bride, we’ll see. But just as she found out, sometimes you have it pretty good right where you are. If what I hear is true, the Sabans feel exactly the same way.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

29 Responses to “Is Nick Saban leaving Alabama? Six reasons that answer is “No.”” Subscribe

  1. finebammer December 12, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    as you said earlier, Coach Saban’s greatest advantage is recruiting. create uncertainty about a coach’s future and you could possibly plant a seed of doubt in a 18 yr. old’s mind.

    yes, it is “silly” season. yes, folks have got to talk about something. but the question is about motivation.

    now, notre dame is in the mix. an entire new media element is in the fray.

    (and if you don’t think the media tries to affect outcomes, see tony barnhart and tim brando)

    Coach Saban and Alabama have never been northeast sports media favorites and now and object of their affection is up against the ‘Bama/Saban juggernaut.

    don’t for two seconds think the northeast sports media wouldn’t love to affect the outcome of that game and the foundation of Coach Saban’s success at Alabama, his recruiting.

  2. Matt December 12, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    The man has nothing to regret and/or make right? He is a football coach not Jesus. You could have written this entire article with one sentence. “I really hope Saban stays”.

    • The Conduit December 12, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      @Matt — The man has a statue and a permanent place in the history of the sport at one of the most historic programs of all time. Boatloads of success doing things the right way, his way, not skirting the rules or recruiting the wrong guys. He should be proud; he deserves to be. Lord knows Alabama fans are proud of what he’s done on and off the field (thanks for the brand new park, Nick’s Kids Foundation).

      I say “legacy” is what keeps him at Alabama. “The process” is effective, not a gimmick, so his success will continue and his legacy can last as long as he wants it to. He’s in a unique position to all title-winning Alabama head coaches. Legacy disappears when you leave for another job. Legacy turns to infamy when you find yourself in a Paterno-esque scandal. Saban doesn’t just know these things; he’s the only head coach who actually addresses them directly in public.

      I’m selfish. Saban and his staff and mantra are a literal inspiration. I don’t want to lose that at all. But it sure sounds like Saban and Moore are aware of that, in spite of money.

    • ITK December 12, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      And you could have written your reply with one sentence: “I pray every night before I go to sleep that Saban leaves; please God, let this be the time.”

      I’m re-reading my article to see where I claimed he was the Christ…I’ll get back with you.

  3. Abraham December 12, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    ITK, I agree that Saban wouldn’t leave for the Browns or any other NFL position. Not for most of the reasons you list, though. You’re trying to list the basics of normal human nature (satisfaction, complacency, fatigue, etc.) as the reasons. The rules of basic human nature don’t apply to a guy like Saban, which is the very reason he has been so successful. It’s also a joke to use his previous statements about never wanting to leave as a reason. Every college coach in the country has to say that because of recruiting. He won’t go back to the NFL because he hated the NFL. It doesn’t play to his strength of being in total control of every aspect of the program. That is the first, last, and only reason he’d never consider going back to the NFL.

    As I’ve said here before, there is only one job he would consider (and don’t think for one split second that he would dismiss it without consideration). That’s Texas. Now, he wouldn’t even address it unless Mack Brown was no longer there. If UT tried to approach Saban with some hypothetical offer of “if Mack were to be fired” he’d slam the door in their face. That’s a strong credit to Saban’s character. In other words, he wouldn’t pull a Bobby Petrino-Jetgate-2003. If the UT job were open, though, Saban could (and would) win a NC within 3 years there. It ain’t about money. It’s about being crowned as the greatest college coach of all time. You’re kidding yourself if you think that wouldn’t be powerful motivation to a guy like Saban, and he ain’t gonna turn it down just because Miss Terry likes Tuscaloosa. I don’t know if you’ve been to Austin, but it’s one of the coolest cities in the U.S.. Terry would like it just fine. The question is whether Saban would want to leave what he’s built to take on that challenge. I’d bet that he’d stay at Bama, but he’d darn sure have to sleep on an offer from Texas.

    • The Conduit December 12, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      Why would moving to the Texas job make him the greatest coach of all time? Is it the idea of “rebuilding” Texas after Brown? Because Saban says every year is a new class that has to be built, not rebuilt.

      Winning a title at BGSU might help solidify Saban as the best coach of all time. But that’s an awfully tall order, and I don’t think unparalleled success at an SEC school year after year is detrimental to his success or his legacy as one of the all-time greats.

      But the greatest of all time? That means he’d have to surpass Bear Bryant. Even if that is his goal (is it?), why wouldn’t he want to do that in Tuscaloosa?

    • ITK December 12, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      Texas is not the utopia of college football. He couldn’t do anything there that he isn’t already doing at Alabama. Texas is a job that’s on par with Alabama; not greater. I seriously doubt at his stage of life launching to another college coaching job is on his agenda. Not going to happen.

      • Abraham December 12, 2012 at 10:44 am #

        Conduit and ITK, you really don’t understand what Saban could accomplish at UT that he couldn’t at Bama? Of course you do. He could win an NC at 3 different schools. That’s what would enshrine him as the greatest coach of all time. By sheer numbers of titles, he’d have to win this year and then win 3 more to pass Bear’s 6 NC’s. As good as he is, that’s pretty doubtful. One NC at Texas and it’s done.

        • ITK December 12, 2012 at 11:02 am #

          Your Texas fantasy makes me smile. This man really does keep you up at night, doesn’t he?

          • The Conduit December 12, 2012 at 11:38 am #

            Kinda? While winning a national title at three different schools would be a crowning achievement, why Texas? He beat Texas with Alabama for a national championship just a few years ago; I’m not sure how much UT would want to hire Saban after that?
            So why UT? Why not Oregon or So. Cal. or Kansas State?
            Also, I say three more titles is not out of Saban’s reach. Two more to tie Bear Bryant and across two different eras of college football structure would be pretty enormous. My guess is if he did win titles at three schools or seven national titles total there would still be people arguing for and against him being the greatest coach of all time.

            Not me, but still. Roll Tide.

        • ITK December 12, 2012 at 11:52 am #

          This is just dumb. Not saying you’re dumb, but if you really think like this, there’s a good possibility you are.

        • BamaBrando December 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

          Keep your fingers crossed, keep praying to the twees, and wish upon a star, whatever you have to do to hope Saban leaves Bama. We all know you guys are really desperate right now, and it is really fun too watch.

          • Abraham December 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

            Geez, all I did was say that Saban would consider a legitmate offer from Texas. You’ll note that I also said I’d bet against him ultimately accepting the offer. All you guys can do is hurl empty insults in response.

            Conduit, if you think for one second that Deloss Dodds (Texas AD) would even blink before calling Saban just because Bama beat UT in the title game a few years back, you have completely lost your mind. Have no doubt, that is the first call Dodds would make, and he wouldn’t even consider the possibility of approaching another coach until he was convinced that Saban wouldn’t take the job.

          • The Conduit December 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

            K, Abraham, you’re getting upset at what other people are implying, then you do the exact same thing.

            I didn’t say UT wouldn’t want Saban, but that there is a stigma there in very recent history, and I asked why UT instead of any other program for that reason and then some. That’s all. Relax. Roll Tide.

          • BamaBrando December 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

            Geez Abe, we all know that just about every college program looking for a coach would love to hire Saban. Who has the best resume in college for the past five years?

            You are assuming Saban would entertain an offer from Texas should an opening materialize. Who knows? Maybe you are right. But I do think that there is more evidence to support Saban staying at Bama, than reasons why he would leave.

            Your assertion that Saban would leave to go to Texas just win a 3rd NC at another school to be ‘the best of all-time’ is a ridiculous stretch on your part. That is the part that makes me think you are wishing he would leave.

            You being an Auburn fan living in desperate times also brings into question your motive to even post stuff like that over here. But, you couldn’t be the true Auburn fan you are without the hypocrisy you guys dwell in.

          • Abraham December 13, 2012 at 11:50 am #

            errr, Brando…I agree that there is more evidence to support that Saban would stay at Bama than leave. Hence my statement that I’d bet against him leaving. What’s hilarious is you saying that it’s a stretch to think Saban would be motivated about being remembered as the greatest coach that ever lived. Ego and ambition are the things that get guys like Saban out bed in the morning. That doesn’t make him a bad person at all. Every great leader the world has ever known was driven in the same manner. People don’t run for President of the U.S. simply because they want to change things. They want power, and they want to be forever remembered throughout history. They want to achieve the ultimate accomplishment, whatever it might be. You are blinded by your crimson loyalty if you think Saban isn’t that kind of guy. Hear me when I say this – THAT IS A PURE COMPLIMENT TO SABAN AND AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HOW GREAT HE IS.

            You bama fans are hilarious. You can’t even accept a compliment about your coach if it entertains a hypothetiocal wherein he would even consider another job.

          • BamaBrando December 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

            My point, Abe, is that Saban doesn’t have to leave to go to Texas to prove he is the ‘greatest coach’. THAT is what I am pointing out to you. If he has such an ego as you say, then why would he want to leave? Bama fans are and have been united behind him the whole time from day 1, and he has unprecedented control of Bama football, facilities, and pretty much everything he could ask for.

            You think you are masking ‘compliments’ in with your true agenda, which is trying to fuel the flames with your reasoning why Saban would leave. All anyone has to do is just read your posts from your time here to see that. Save the rhetoric.

          • Abraham December 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

            Yes Brando, Saban would have to win a NC at another school (or win four more NC’s at Bama) to be considered the greatest college coach ever. Are you saying that you would consider him to a better coach than Bear if he wins 2 more NC’s at Bama? Be careful when you answer that. What you say could be considered blasphemy on this site.

            What agenda do you think I’m pushing? Do you think I’m under the impression that Saban will read my posts and be persuaded to take the Texas job? I’m just having a discussion, and every single thing I’ve said is right. I guarantee you that 98% of unbiased observers would agree with everything I said. Frankly, it really ain’t that controversial.

          • BamaBrando December 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

            Your perception is wrong. I already think that Saban is as great a coach as Bryant. In fact, I think in a lot of ways, that Saban may be even better. Your reasoning that he would ‘have’ to go somewhere else is pretty stupid. He could stay at Bama and retire out on what he has accomplished here already. Or he could leave and start all over again somewhere else because his ego and drive demands it? Yeah, you really make a lot of sense. But like I said, cut the BS. You are not unbiased and your opinion of the whole thing is laughable. I guess, according to your logic, if he really wanted a challenge, maybe he could go to Auburn and win several NCs there. That would really cement his place as the best ever. His ego demands such things.

          • Abraham December 14, 2012 at 11:37 am #

            Ok everybody. Brando just said that Saban has already proven he’s as good a coach as Bear Bryant. I’d love to hear who agrees with that statement.

          • ITK December 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

            I completely agree. It’s much harder to do what Saban is doing today than what Bryant did in his day. Just one man’s opinion.

  4. Ricky B December 12, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    My dad has struggled for years with an attachment disorder. Ran off from us when I was young, showed up sparingly at school only for special events like career day. As an adult we have a relationship, but he still leaves any time things feel ‘too perfect’. Says he can’t explain it, but if things are going good he just has to blow em up!

    Here’s hoping Nick is not like my daddy!

    • ITK December 12, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Just don’t lose it and run around the track in your underwear.

  5. Crimsonite December 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Abraham is just blowing smoke up his own ass. Coming over here with some profound insight on Saban as if he knows something that those closest to Nick don’t. Texas? What a dumbass laugh. Texas isn’t even in the top 10 when it comes to football dynasties. In fact Texas has never had one. They’ve omly had one Natty since the Nixon adminestration. Saban came to Bama because he wanted to restore #1 to #, and there is no where else that he can achieve all his dreams of setting records ad fas as he can at Bama. He’d have to coach much longer and put off his retirement much longer than he wants too. As for Austin,Tx – I live close to Austin. Not saying it isn’t a fun place. But there are other considerations than fun. It is laid out like a National Disaster. Hell to get anywhere in a hurry. And has the worst traffic problem of any city its size in the nation. With over 100,000 students Texas is the largest University in the country and the damn University and Stadium are along side if I35. Don’t go there on game day. Unfortunately all the traffic from San Antonio and Dallas/FtWorth and trucking from Mexico, the US and Canada all have to go through right there. I do not go through Austin except after midnight. If Nicky wa.ts to jump from relaxation to hectic hell, then just ler him move ftom T-Town to fuking Austin. He’ll need that Georgia Lake House a lot faster.

  6. RC December 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I think The Nuss Bus is a better ride than The Gus Bus

  7. CRIMSON HAMMAH December 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    absolutely no smoke on saban leaving the smoke is cleveland will target him….if browns fire their coach/they are on a 3 game winning streak…if lombardi is gm/lombardi said he is hired by the browns but not as gm….DO NOT BE DECEIVED SABAN HAS NEVER WORKED IN THE BROWNS ORGANIZATION

  8. Elmo December 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    What is driving this “Issue” ….. is the usual pathetic attempt to generate callers to sports talk. The off season for sports talk has begun…… and it might be one of the worst ever….. I just would like to add … Is it me …. are the callers not getting worst ?

  9. moose December 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Just shit. That’s all it is. People with worse morals and scruples than scabs talking shit. And that is all.

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