Nick Saban is not leaving Alabama for the NFL.
A story in Sunday’s Boston Globe indicated that Saban might consider coaching the Cleveland Browns if former colleague Michael Lombardi were to become the general manager.
Cue the massive freak out in Tuscaloosa.
But Crimson Tide fans shouldn’t let this story make them sweat. Saban isn’t going anywhere, at least not now.
Saban and his famous “Process” were not meant for the NFL. In college, Saban is able to mold and shape his players from boys to men and have complete control over his program. He wouldn’t have that luxury in the NFL.
In college, athletes are working towards a goal—winning their conference and the national championship. In the pros there are too many prima donnas who just want their money. The level of passion for one’s team is not the same and that’s one glaring difference that makes college football so special.
They say Saban is a restless coach who will never be satisfied and they’re right. The 61-year-old likes a challenge. He gets bored. That may be, but what’s also true is he has never coached a team longer than five years, yet he’s finishing up his sixth in Tuscaloosa.
Under Saban, Alabama has won two SEC titles, two national championships (possibly a third in store in four weeks) and just this week, the head coach was named to the 2013 class of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Last week on local radio, Saban’s wife Terry reaffirmed her family’s desire to stay put.
“At the end of every season there’s always so much gossip,” she said in the interview. “We’re very comfortable here. We love it here, it’s a great fit for our family. As far as I’m concerned, this is where we’ll retire someday. As far as jobs go, this is it for us.”
And for the reporters who cover Saban on a daily basis, they know who runs his household and it’s not anyone named Nick.
Of course, words can be eaten and Saban knows that. Back in 2006 when there was speculation he might leave the Miami Dolphins for Alabama, he denied rumors saying, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” He also had his players convinced he was sticking around. Of course, he did become the Alabama coach and now he has to go back to his old South Florida stomping grounds next month and probably run into some begrudging Dolphins fans.
If Saban did to go Cleveland, he’d inherit the worst team in the AFC North. Do we really think the king of college football would leave the dynasty he built at Alabama to lose to the rivaled Bengals, Steelers and Ravens on a yearly basis? I don’t.
As for the money component of this equation, Saban is the highest paid coach in college football, making more than $6 million a year when all is said and done. If he wanted more money, first of all I’m sure Alabama would pay, but second of all, we know that’s not the issue because Saban gives a majority of his outside income, such as television commercials, speaking engagements and other appearances to the non-profit charity of Nick’s Kids that he and Terry created while at Michigan State.
Another thing—especially recently with the tragedies in Kansas City and Dallas—there is much drama in the NFL with gun control, domestic violence and drunk driving. Does Saban want to involve himself in that? He has kept things clean—at least as far as the eye can see—in his six years at Alabama. Players don’t want to get into trouble. They’d rather face punishment from a police officer than feel the wrath of Nick Saban.
Perhaps he’d rub off on some NFL players, but he probably wouldn’t get his message across as clearly as he can at the college level.
Saban has stated several times this season how much he appreciates the Alabama fan base and he understands how much the program he runs means to the state. He’s committed to his players, his coaches, his team, the university, the town and the state of Alabama. His wife said Tuscaloosa is the last stop for the Saban family, and I believe her.
Saban might like new challenges, but last I checked, kings don’t vacate their thrones voluntarily.
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