Enough with Saban-to-UT financial fiction

Enough with the fiction about any $100 million Saban-to-Texas contract terms.

My cell phone lit up with text messages on Wednesday with reports that a new book by Paul Finebaum, co-written by ESPN.com’s Gene Wojchiechowski, says Texas was prepared to give Nick Saban “somewhere between a $12 and $15 million signing bonus and a salary package worth $100 million (plus performances).”

And, let me guess, the book says Texas was also going to give Saban a time machine, a unicorn and his own space station.

If this book says Texas was willing to write this mega-million-dollar signing bonus and $100 million salary package into a contract, it will be as irresponsible as the Dec. 10, 2013, tweet by Oklahoma City sportscaster Dean Blevins that launched the “$100 million” myth.

@DeanBlevins tweeted: Texas source tells me: “Saban sitting on 10-yr deal worth $100M & 1% of #LonghornNetwork.” Smart way 2 get cooperation w non-stop TV cams

That tweet by Blevins should have been laughed off the face of college football for even saying Texas could offer Saban “1% of #LonghornNetwork.”

The Longhorn Network is ESPN’s property.

ESPN paid $300 million for 20 years beginning in 2011 for the rights to air Texas’ third-tier sports inventory.

Texas may have some say over what’s aired on LHN, but it sure doesn’t have a right to say how ESPN is going to spend its money.

When I contacted people at ESPN about that tweet, I was met with laughter and head-shaking over the out-of-control-hysteria that was building in early December about the speculation involving Saban and Texas.

Hell, you had a former Oklahoma Sooners QB (Blevins) laying down Saban’s contract terms at Texas and a TCU beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting Saban-to-Texas was a done deal.

(Somehow, I ended up getting blamed for saying Saban would end up at Texas, when I never reported that anywhere at any time - knowing how treacherous it would be to make such a marriage.)

But instead of people dismissing Blevins’ tweet as the Elvis-riding-a-UFO sighting it was, it somehow became the baseline for any Saban-to-Texas terms.

And it was pure fabrication.

Maybe not by Blevins. But by whomever was talking to Blevins.

Jim Vertuno of The Associated Press broke the story on Sept. 19, 2013, that Texas regent Wallace Hall had spoken with Nick Saban’s agent in January of 2013 about the possibility of Saban replacing Mack Brown.

Vertuno’s story also said former UT regent Tom Hicks, who used to own the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, met with Brown after Hall’s conversation to see if Brown wanted to keep coaching.

The world knew at that point there was a group of power brokers at Texas who were interested in the possibility of Saban as the Longhorns’ next football coach.

Following that, I reported several times that the dollar figure discussed among the group of Texas power brokers that wanted Saban was $7 million per year. Not a penny more would be written into any contract, I was told.

“If that’s not good enough ($7 million per year), then we would move on," I was told last December. "We wouldn’t ever skew the salary structure for college coaches like that. Plus, the regents would never approve a $10 million salary for a football coach. Not even Vince Lombardi.”

No matter how many times I reported the $7 million figure – on Fox Sports Live or on ESPN’s College Football Live or on SportsCenter – it wasn’t nearly as sexy as $10 million for 10 years, totaling $100 million and Saban’s own space station.

And how much did Saban get from Alabama for re-upping? A contract that will pay him roughly $7 million per year.

Yet the fabrications of Saban getting his own fleet of Brinks trucks from Texas will now apparently be repeated in the book “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference.”

And if this ridiculous, $100 million myth pulled from a tweet by an Oklahoma sportscaster (that also included Texas allegedly giving away 1 percent of ESPN’s property), is being used to sell the book, then it should be noted for what it is.


When I called one of the Saban-supporting Texas power brokers Wednesday about what’s allegedly being written in Finebaum’s book, I was told:

“This is just made up bullshit.”

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