Was There Ever Any Doubt He'd Stay?
Many in the Alabama camp had been uneasy that the best coach in college football, Nick Saban, would desert Alabama for Texas. It came from all sorts of sources, most of them in Texas, but quite a few in other places...places that hope with all their hearts for Alabama football failure.
Part of the reason for the drama is that Saban, who has coached Alabama for seven years and delivered three national championships for the Crimson Tide, was parsimonious in his statements of devotion for Bama.
There are 12 Red Elephant Clubs that support the Crimson Tide Foundation, support that goes to endowing scholarships for athletes. They meet regularly and have various speakers, sometimes coaches, sometimes others. One of the rules of the club is that the members don't share what is said outside the meeting. But I suppose the speaker at a Red Elephant Club meeting is not bound by that pledge.
I spoke to the original Red Elephant Club in Mobile this week. Here is part of what I said regarding the rumor of Saban to Texas:
"Let me explain one thing. Nick Saban and I don't sit around in the 19th hole and smoke cigars and drink Scotch and discuss his football future. Well, maybe I do, but he doesn't.
"I have heard that Alabama is going to sign him to an extension. I have listened to him say he expects to finish his coaching career at Alabama. I have heard him say he is too old to start over. On his radio show a couple of weeks ago I asked him if he planned to stay at Alabama 10 more years or just eight and he said he would coach as long as he felt he could do a good job. I read where Miss Terry said they would retire at Alabama.
"Balance that with a blog from a reporter who covers TCU saying Saban is headed to Texas.
"Why, you ask, doesn't Saban make a definitive statement that he is not going to Texas, that he is staying at Alabama? Because of what happened in Miami.
"I think Saban gets beaten up about that too much. At the time he was asked if he was going to Alabama and he said no, his Miami Dolphins team was still in the playoffs and Mal Moore had yet to make contact with Saban. As far as I'm concerned Saban was telling the truth as he knew it.
"But he was roasted for it, and I think for that reason he doesn't want to give any absolute statement.
"So now we wait on developments at Texas. They have a new athletics director. Will Mack Brown retire? How long will it take Texas to get a new head coach?
"Until that is done, we'll continue to have rumors. That's part of the price of having the nation's best football coach.
"I believe Nick Saban will stay at Alabama."
Who is to say I didn't have my fingers crossed, though. Regardless of how sure I now think I was, I join those in the Crimson Tide nation breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Earlier this week I was thinking about Mal Moore and what Nick Saban said at Mal's funeral last spring. Saban said that Moore came to him and said, "You saved me." And, Saban said, he told Mal, "No. You saved me." That led me to believe he was happy with his lot in Tuscaloosa.
I don't want to make someone sound dumb, in part because I heard only part of the radio show, but earlier this week I heard Tim Brando suggest that Saban might want to go to Texas because it would be easier to win a national championship at Texas than at Alabama. Two things: Which school has the most national championships? And when did Nick Saban look for the easy way?
I hear that Texas has more resources than Alabama. What does Saban lack for at Alabama? Okay, Alabama doesn't have the population of Texas. But, hey, Saban's son and daughter-in-law are expecting. It's a start.
Although details have not been released, I have no reason to doubt the Kirk Herbstreit report that it will be for five years. I also have no reason to doubt that if Saban wants it to be longer at some point, that can be arranged.
Saban, who was 62 on October 31, is near the end of his seventh season at Alabama. This year's team has one game remaining, the Sugar Bowl game against Oklahoma on January 2. Alabama is 11-1 this year and ranked third in the nation after winning the last two national championships and also the 2009 title. His Alabama record is 79-14.
Only four coaches in history have coached teams to four or more national championships. Former Alabama Coach Paul Bryant had six, Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, USC's John McKay, and Saban – who won one at LSU – four each.
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