Coaching Search Update/Review

It looks like the Alabama football coaching search will proceed past the holiday season and into the New Year, where Mal Moore's auld acquaintance might be forgot, and never brought to mind.

Last week mercifully passed with no offer, agreement in principle or back room "done deals" that made it to the light of day. The search instead went into "Four Corners" mode - the fabled brand of basketball made so famous by Dean Smith where a team would spread the floor and hold the ball away from opponents for minutes upon minutes without attempting a move toward the basket.

Everyone is waiting, it seems, on the conclusion of the NFL season for the search to get back into full swing. Most speculation has focused on Miami Dolphins Coach Nick Saban, who might be looking to jump off the sinking ship in South Florida. The Dolphins are out of the playoff race and have two games remaining, wrapping up the season on New Year's Day in Indianapolis against the Colts.

While the wait might be on for Saban, that doesn't mean Alabama is waiting for Saban and only Saban. Jon Gruden is an interesting prospect among the current crop of NFL head coaches. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-11 this year under Gruden, whose flame could be flickering as he winds down his fifth season with the Bucs.

Speculation about Houston Nutt to Alabama, even though there was no evidence of interest by anyone on Alabama's side of things, was drained of momentum Tuesday when Nutt's contract was extended by six years with a pay raise. How did Nutt's name get tied with Alabama? Nutt's agent is the infamous Jimmy Sexton, agent to Spurrier, Saban and LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to name a few.

While we all wait, here's one take on the search to date:

The first waves of rampant speculation turned forcefully and almost simultaneously to Saban and South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, with different camps insisting that each man was Alabama's first choice and a deal was close to being agreed to. It does not appear such speculation was idle at the time.

The Spurrier deal apparently went far enough along that some serious discussion about possible contract terms took place before Spurrier took stock of his position and decided he'd rather stay put at South Carolina. That's based on accounts from several sources indirectly familiar with the Spurrier courting that all follow the same general direction.

Where those stories diverge is on what offers and counteroffers were made. The outcome spoke for itself, however, when Spurrier reaffirmed his commitment to his South Carolina players on November 30.

Saban nixed any talk linking him with Alabama early in the process, but the speculation remained alive, fueled primarily by reporting in the Birmingham News. That lines linking the two never seemed to have been completely shut off by either side, even during the unlikeliest of times, is the strongest evidence there might be a connection made after Saban's season ends.

The Rich Rodriguez on-again off-again deal was more thoroughly covered. That courting began in earnest on December 5 when Moore and Rodriguez met face-to-face in New York, and ended three days later when he sent word through his agent that he was not accepting Moore's offer to come to Alabama.

Below is a full list of NFL head coaches and their teams:

Brian Billick, Baltimore Ravens
Dick Jauron, Buffalo Bills
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Romeo Crennel, Cleveland Browns
Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts
Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
Herman Edwards, Kansas City Chiefs
Nick Saban, Miami Dolphins
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Eric Mangini, New York Jets
Art Shell, Oakland Raiders
Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers
Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego Chargers
Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

Dennis Green, Arizona Cardinals
Jim Mora, Jr., Atlanta Falcons
John Fox, Carolina Panthers
Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
Bill Parcells, Dallas Cowboys
Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Scott Linehan, St. Louis Rams
Mike Nolan, San Francisco 49ers
Mike Holmgren, Seattle Seahawks
Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins

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