DEVILLE: LSU dodges bullet, Saban to stay

Call up Chris Mortensen, e-mail John Clayton and leave ESPN and CNN/SI a voicemail, Nick Saban's name can be removed from the wish list of NFL experts.<br><br> In an unprecedented move, Saban called a hasty press conference Saturday afternoon announcing his intention to remain head football coach at LSU.

Rumors spread like wildfire when sports information director Michael Bonnette notified the media during the second half of LSU's 70-66 win over Alabama in the Maravich Center late Saturday afternoon.


"Is it Saban? Is he staying or is he going? What about Clayton, Spears or Hill? Maybe Mauck?" The questions were endless.


Tiger hoops coach John Brady had barely wrapped up his postgame comments before Saban stepped onto the podium on the fifth floor of the Athletic Administration Building and put an end to questions about his future as LSU's coach.


The Tigers fourth year head coach entered the room wearing a smile and carrying a message – his services are off the market. On the verge of becoming college football's highest paid head coach, Saban expressed his happiness in Baton Rouge and he has decided to dismiss all current interests and advances from NFL teams.


"I wanted to be proactive in getting the information out to everyone that this was something that they needed not to worry about," Saban said.


The press conference came on the heels of a day-long, in-home chat with Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who stopped in for a visit with Saban. The visit, one which Saban wished would have remained private, caused an uproar in the LSU community as it seemed probable Saban may bolt.


"I just wanted to put some of the rumor and innuendos that are out there about NFL teams regardless of who the team is, and the fact that I did talk to a team yesterday (Chicago Bears) because Jerry Angelo is a good friend of mine and we have been friends for a long time," Saban said.

The content of he and Angelo's conversation remained vague, however Saban said it concerned his feelings on the current state of the NFl. Saban added no offer was made from the Bears.


"Jerry and I talked about it and it was more of an are you interested in doing this type of thing," Saban said. "That is basically where I would like to leave it ."


"Basically, the conversation that we had yesterday was really about the NFL. It was not really about being head coach of the Chicago Bears. We talked about how things are a little different in the league right compared to what they were when I was in it."


Saban re-affirmed his pledge to LSU and spoke of the program continuing on its current course and the future of Tiger football.


"After thinking about whether that is something that I would be interested in doing at this time or not, I just want everyone to know that it is not something that I am interested in doing right now," he said. "I am very happy to be the coach here and we have a tremendous support group here. Our Chancellor Mark Emmert has been very supportive of the program. We have a lot of people who have supported this program and a lot of players involved in this program that we have recruited and we want to continue to try to develop and be with."


It seems athletic director Skip Bertman, chancellor Mark Emmert as well as players and fans have again dodged a bullet. Saban seemed overly genuine when stating his feelings about LSU and his future with the program. However, will this commitment be a short-term? Will inquiries arise in the wake of next season whenever an NFL job arises?


The answer – probably. National analysts seem to usually analyze as they see fit. But Saban has said his future is with the Tigers, for now at least.


And why shouldn't it be, the 52-year-old Saban is on the verge of the most lucrative deal in the history of college football. The contract is in the works as Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, and LSU officials are in negotiations.


"I think there a lot of people working hard on that and I am pleased with where we are on that," Saban said. "That is not an issue."


So for the time being, the hottest commodity in football is off the market. LSU, its fans, players and administrators can sit back and enjoy the offseason as the nation's best football coach moves toward a signing day to remember.

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