The Saban Situation - Will he stay or will he go?

Let the speculation begin.

Nick Saban addressed a packed media room on the fifth floor of the LSU Athletics Administration Building Wednesday night. Smiling and joking with members of the media, the mood turned awkwardly serious when LSU's fifth-year head coach stepped behind the microphone.


When he was introduced, sports information director Michael Bonnette said Saban was issue a statement pertaining to a press release issued Wednesday morning concerning his preliminary discussions with the Miami Dolphins of the NFL. Bonnette went on to add Saban would then field questions pertaining only to Wednesday practice or the Tigers' Jan. 1 matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Capital One Bowl./


Let's just say, the media had other plans.


While the questions were not directed totally at Saban jumping to the NFL, the inquiries ranged from how he addressed the team Wednesday, the subject of recruiting or some sort of timetable of what LSU fans can expect in terms of knowing whether or not Saban will continue on as the head coach of the Tigers.


"We haven't always had success, but we certainly had our share of it," Saban said. "We've got a lot of good football players on our team, and we look forward to the challenges that we have in the future here."


Saban did guarantee he would be on the sidelines for LSU's bowl game against Iowa on Jan. 1.


"Absolutely," he said.


Someone reminded Saban of the fact the last time he was headed to the Capital One Bowl (then the Citrus Bowl) as head coach of Michigan State in 1999, he did not join the Spartans in Orlando, but accepted the head coaching job at LSU.


"I came here instead," referencing that 1999 season. "And it's been well worth it, I might add. I had a lot of great memories and opportunities to play in a lot of great football games.


And with that, the highest paid coach in college football (making $2.3 million annually) said he did not wish to speak of the situation anymore.


"I don't have any intentions of speaking to anybody else relative to this situation at this time," Saban said.


But the questions did not stop.


Against his will, Saban, tight-lipped and obviously annoyed by the inquisition, answered the first few questions, but after a few moments glared at the media with the icy demeanor he has become famous for since arriving at LSU in December of 1999.


"I'm not driving the wheel here," Saban said. "They're (Miami) continuing their search, and I'm continuing my job, and that's it. Nothing else."


It is rumored the Dolphins have offered Saban $5 million and complete control of the program as head coach and general manager. However, Miami must continue the interviewing process, calling on minority coaches, or face a $500,000 fine by the NFL league office.


Speaking of the NFL, as it seemed Saban continually referred to LSU in the past tense and reading his body language, it almost seemed as if he knew something every else didn't, he made a statement that both seemed confusing and yet intriguing concerning the National Football League.


"When I coached for Jerry (Glanville) in Houston, he used to say the NFL stood for "'Not For Long,'" Saban said. "And lately, the college coaches that have went to the NFL, it was just that, ‘Not For Long.'"


While it seemed almost as if Saban was speaking out of both sides of his mouth, the statement Not For Long begs the question, "then why is he interviewing with NFL teams."

Saban answered that question as it pertained to his career and his future as a football coach and classified it as a career decision that everyone at some point is faced with.


While this saga will likely rock on through the remainder of the holiday season, it is likely Saban doesn't quite know what is in store.


In the mean time the speculation continues as to will Saban continue forward as LSU's coach or will the powers that be on campus go in search of a new leader. Athletic director Skip Bertman is trying his best to remain positive.


"This is not about money," Bertman said. "This is about the big leagues calling. Miami is a special team, one of the best in the league since about 1970. He wanted to hear what they had to say, and I think that's OK."


"He loves the people here. He loves his job here, but if it's baseball and the New York Yankees call, I'd probably have to listen."


While it is still to early to begin speculating who could take over if Saban bolts, early names being thrown around are former Miami Hurricane and Cleveland Brown head coach Butch Davis along with Oklahoma State coach Les Miles, Cal coach Jeff Tedford as well as offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.


While Davis has spurned several offers to coach next season, when he left the Browns he expressed interest in two college coaching jobs – Florida (which was filled by Utah coach Urban Meyer) and the LSU gig.


Stay tuned.

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