Saban: Not money but love of college game

HOOVER, Ala. – All morning Thursday there were a couple of hundred Alabama fans who hung out in the lobby of The Wynfrey Hotel, just waiting to catch a glimpse of the latest rendition of "The Coach who would become Bear."

The $4 million man eventually obliged after dealing with the print, radio, and TV folks at SEC Media Days, signing everything from houndstooth ballcaps to footballs and pictures of himself, the former Michigan State, LSU, and Miami Dolphins head coach.

Finally, those who bleed crimson must feel Nick Saban has made it to the top of his profession and surely this will be his last stop.

Saban says it might be, too, now that he's back in the college game, the place where he and his family feel they belong.

"We love college football," said Saban, whose first SEC Media Days appearance in three years didn't appear to draw any bigger crowd than his predecessor Mike Shula had here the past four years. "It had nothing to do with the Miami Dolphins or the NFL."

It had, he reiterated, all to do with being in the college game. Nothing else.

"We love college football because of the spirit and enthusiasm of it," he said. "We feel like we can impact and affect young people in a more positive way in college football because of their age."

And age had something to do with his move as well, he said.

"We felt like, at 55 years old, where do you want to spend the rest of your time?" he said he and his family pondered at the end of last football season.

Tuscaloosa, Ala., amongst a rabid bunch of supporters, must have been just that place.

But he had an important word for them, in a subtle way of course.

"There's no waving a wand and making all that happen," he said of winning big quickly. "But we work hard and go from where we are right now to try to get to where we want to be. There's no real formula for what the timetable to do that is."

Safe to say, however, it's thought to be a shorter time at Alabama than maybe some other places. And beating Auburn quickly would help too. Shula never did. The Tigers own five wins in a row over their cross-state rivals.

So a question came at him from a scribe from Louisiana.

Had the Alabama job never opened, would you still be in the NFL in south Florida or coaching college football someplace else?

"Well, I never tried to leave Miami, so I wouldn't have tried to leave Miami," Saban said. "I would be at Miami right now. I have never tried to leave anywhere. I never tried to leave LSU."

Must be sweet music to crimson ears. Never try to leave any job. At the Capstone to stay. Just like Bear Bryant after a three-stop tour at Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M.

Bear said mama called and he headed home to Bama. It couldn't have been about the money, not in 1958. Saban said it wasn't in 2007 either.

"You know, I don't think what I do is about money," said likely the highest paid person in the history of college athletics. "I actually took a pay cut."

All just for the love of the college game.

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