Saban in the NFL seems unthinkable, but ...
DEC 21, 2012 11:23a ET
After calling as many sources in Tuscaloosa as I could find the week before Christmas, the word is out and it is unanimous and adamant: Saban is not going to the pros, it’s off base. It’s not happening. Stop asking.
One source I spoke with started the conversation with a whiney, “Not again.”
But there are people just as adamant on the other side.
To hear folks in Cleveland talk, Saban is already interviewing potential assistants so he can hit the ground running with the Browns the day after the BCS Championship Game vs. Notre Dame.
That must come as quite a surprise to Pat Shurmur who, last time anyone checked, still had an office in Cleveland with “Head Coach” on the door.
Saban’s name is also being thrown around in association with the Eagles and the Jets and every other franchise that is the least bit unhappy with their current coaching staff. He is like the high school beauty queen that everyone wants to ask to the prom -- sorry fellas, she can only go once.
So, what to make of this latest round of rumors, with details so rich many believe they must be true?
The short answer is simple: Nobody knows.
This is the guy who was certainly, definitely, absolutely not leaving Michigan State. He was also not leaving LSU for the Miami Dolphins, even a few days before boarding the plane. And in Miami, where he is still openly referred to as Nick “Satan,” he told everyone, including the team owner, that he was not going anywhere.
At SEC Media days over the summer, Saban revealed a little of the reasoning behind his move out of Miami, a story that has been told several times, but one that he confirmed in a casual conversation with former Browns’ quarterback and Fox Sports South analyst Tim Couch between formal interviews.
“We had the defense in pretty good shape,” Saban said. “But I could never get the quarterback situation straightened out. We had Drew Brees. Had him ready to go, all the details of the deal worked out. But the team doctor wouldn’t sign off on him. That’s when I said, 'I’m out of here.’ If that guy could make that call, I couldn’t stay.”
That is a perfectly logical explanation for leaving, but not for misleading everyone in the organization about his intentions.
Now there is the radio interview Saban gave to Miami host Dan Le Batard on Monday, in which he said, “I really enjoy what I'm doing here right now. I'm getting old. I don't think we've got too many moves left in us.
"You develop a lot of relationships and loyalties to the players you recruit and the players you have on the team and the people you have in the organization. I don't think it's really fair to leave.
"I regretted when I left LSU, because I left a lot of relationships there. Hopefully I'll be able to stay here for a long, long time.”
Those are words Alabama fans are happy to hear, and ones that lead most people in Tuscaloosa to say, “Oh course he’s not leaving. Why would he?”
Because there is a history with Saban, and that history shows that moving is what he does.
The reasons to stay are many. He is rich, loved, and one of the most powerful men in the state of Alabama with an opportunity to build a legacy that will long outlive him. He could even have 'Bama fans trading in the hounds-tooth for wide-brimmed straw hats in a few years.
But the man has only failed once in his professional life, and that was in Miami. For a guy like Saban, the lure to erase that blemish may be too tempting.
Either way, some are going to be right and some wrong; some thrilled and others bitterly disappointed. Saban can’t be in two places at once.
Somebody has to have their heart broken and hear the word, “No.”