'Bama grand slama'

Alabama athletics director Mal Moore took a lot of heat during his search for a new head football coach but you have to give him credit: His hiring of Nick Saban wasn't just a home run; it was a Bama grand slama.

Saban reportedly is guaranteed $4 million per year, and he can make another $800,000 annually if he meets all of the incentive clauses in his contract. The cost was high, but the cost of keeping Mike Shula and watching the program remain mired in mediocrity would've been even higher.

The revenue raised by Tide football helps fund all of Bama's non-revenue sports, so you don't kill the goose that lays the golden eggs ... and you don't let it die from neglect. Saban already has reinvigorated the fan base. He'll reinvigorate the program within two years. Ultimately, the money he raises will far surpass the money he makes over the course of his eight-year contract.

Skeptics grumble that Nick Saban can't guarantee the Tide a return to national prominence. That's true; no coach can guarantee that. If I had to place a bet, though, my money would be on "The Nicktator." Saban may be an arrogant control freak but his resume' is just as powerful as his ego.

This is a guy who has proven he can recruit at the Southeastern Conference level and win at the Southeastern Conference level. During his five-year stay at LSU (2000-04) he won three Western Division titles, two overall titles and one national title.

Saban's record in Baton Rouge was a solid 48-16 but that's deceiving. Inheriting a program that had gone 2-9 overall (1-7 SEC) in 1999, he went 8-4 (5-3) his very first year. He claimed the next three SEC West titles and left behind a roster bulging with talented players when he bolted to the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2005.

Bottom line: No college football coach is worth $4 million per year. If anyone approaches that level, though, it's the man Alabama just hired.


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