Will Nick Saban Leave Alabama?

Will Nick Saban Leave Alabama?

Coach Nick Saban has a plan or a “process” for every facet of his football team.  Saban is intimately involved in the offensive, defensive and special teams game planning – everything from spring practices to BCS play sheets.  Saban, himself, has defined the criteria and attributes for every single position on the football team so that his recruiters could know exactly what he was looking for whether they were looking at a lineman or a skill position player.  Once he acquires the talent, Saban then meticulously plans out their workouts, their diets and the building of their psyches so that they can be the best person and player they can be.  So, with all of the time and energy he spends planning the career development for other people, wouldn’t it also stand to reason that the man has a plan for his own career development?  If you don’t think that Saban has a plan for himself and his own career then you are completely miscalculating this very calculated man.  The Lighthouse believes he does have a plan for his future and that plan is to stay at the University of Alabama until his passion for coaching football burns out of his soul.  We’ll elaborate on the plan below but, first, we should look at the common fodder regarding the yearly “eminent” departure headlines that are trotted out there and we’ll defeat each one of these theories one by one…

Nick Saban Can Win Bigger at (Institution Name Here)

Listen, Nick Saban has a pretty good gig in Tuscaloosa.  At the University of Alabama, Saban been able to awake a giant sleeping elephant and turn it into the biggest and baddest creature in the jungle.  In his first five seasons at the Capstone, Nick’s teams have won 7, 12, 14, 10 and 12 games, including two national championships in three years.  In 2008, in only his second year on the job, Saban took an undefeated Alabama team into Atlanta to face off against the undefeated Gators, with the winner moving on to the national championship.  So, in essence you could say that in five years Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have either made to the semi-finals or the finals of the BCS in three of those years.  That’s simply astounding.

In order for Saban to “win bigger” elsewhere, first he would have to leave Alabama.  At the Capstone, Saban currently enjoys having the full control of the football program, a complete partnership with the administration and the overwhelming approval of the board of trustees.  It’s possible that Saban could establish these things at another institution but it would be a risk and it would require time.  At 61, Saban is unlikely to want to take a few years worth of steps back on the possibility of eventually moving forward.  But, more importantly, it would be improbable that Saban could actually “win bigger” elsewhere, as that would essentially require winning a BCS National Championship three years in a row.  After all, Alabama has won two of the last three championships and has been perfectly positioned for two other championships.  That’s right, Alabama has essentially played in a form of semi-final game (including this season) in four of five seasons.  How can you win any bigger than that?  Put simply, you can’t, so winning bigger is impossible and is a ridiculous notion.

Nick Saban Can Recruit Better at (Institution Name Here)

 In the last two years, Alabama has won the coveted (but ever so speculative) recruiting national championship by hauling in the nation’s number one signing class.  Alabama also signed the top class in 2008 and, since that time, Saban’s classes have been ranked in the top three every single year.  Every.  Single.  Year.  The amount of talent that Saban has accumulated has been nothing short of mind-boggling and it prompts NFL scouts to say that Bama could surely compete as an NFL expansion team. 

The University of Texas is often mentioned as a Saban destination and their access to the bountiful amount of tremendous athletes is supposed to be one of the top reasons.  Again, Saban is already hauling in top three classes and has three overall #1 classes to his credit at Alabama.  How much better can Texas (or any other school) do – you can’t rank higher than #1, right?  With Nick’s ability to bring in class after class of top athletes at Alabama, there is no reason for him to feel the need to go elsewhere – the top athletes come to him in Tuscaloosa already.  Saban already has established pipelines and contacts and, while his name and reputation certainly go a long way in getting recruits, moving to a new state and beginning relationships with high school coaches from scratch isn’t likely something Saban wants to do.  He has a pretty solid and successful system right where he is so recruiting better isn’t a need, a want or a possibility.

Nick Saban Wants to Prove He Can Coach in the NFL

This one is my favorite.  If you read anything that had to do with the Sabans’ reasoning for coming back to the college game, you would know that this is a ridiculous notion.  Nick will not go back to the NFL.  First, Nick’s wife Terry loves being the team mom to a bunch of 18-22 year old kids.  It’s her passion and she truly enjoys interacting with these kids and watching them become men.  Meanwhile, Coach Saban’s passion is molding these young kids into fully grown men both on the field and off the field.  He truly believes in both educating them as a football player and as a student, and he wants them to be successful in whatever they do when they leave college.

In the NFL, the players are much more difficult to motivate.  Most are making more than the head coach and will do so whether they give 100% effort or 10% effort.  Nick’s tactics of motivating are well documented and certainly resonate more in the minds of impressionable 18 year olds then in the minds of grown men.  Coach Saban also says that in college football, he’s able to go out and get 25 first round picks as opposed to only getting one in the NFL.  This is a great point.  If you recruit correctly and evaluate correctly, this is a supreme advantage over the NFL.

But, in order for Saban to coach a football team, he needs to be the single voice and a fully autonomous leader in every facet of the organization.  He has to be the GM, the coach and the single point of contact for all things football related.  Now, can you imagine how well he’d work with an ego maniac like Jerry Jones?  The Dallas Cowboys rumor has been out there for three years but there’s a reason that Jerry Jones continues to hire puppets like Jason Garrett, Wade Phillips and Dave Campo.  Jones doesn’t want a strong-willed coach in the Cowboys organization – he had that man in Jimmie Johnson and he got rid of him because he had too much control and received too much of the credit.  Nick isn’t going back to the NFL.  He didn’t enjoy it, his wife didn’t enjoy it and owners no longer provide coaches with carte blanche decision-making powers.  Saban to the NFL?  Not happening.

Saban Can Make More Money At (Team Name Here)

This is the only argument that we can give any kind of credence to.  Yes, the University of Texas, the Dallas Cowboys or Notre Dame could all load up a dump truck full of money and drop it off on Saban’s doorstep.  But, what no one acknowledges is the thing that happens in every single coaching search – the raise and subsequent contract extension of the coach who public says “I’m not interested.”  If you think the University of Alabama doesn’t know what they have in Saban, you are sorely mistaken.  Alabama would ante into a game of 5 card Hold Onto Him and wouldn’t blink as the price climbed higher and higher.  And, we get the sense that Saban isn’t necessarily about the money, after all he did take a pay cut to leave Miami and come to the University of Alabama.  Money isn’t what drives the man but, if needed, Alabama would match any offer made to Saban.  Last year, Alabama netted over 60 million dollars in revenue so the Lighthouse thinks they understand Saban’s worth and will compensate him accordingly.

So What Does the Future Hold

The one thing that Saban hasn’t achieved in his career is longevity.  Saban has bounced from Michigan State to LSU to Miami to Alabama and he’s never stayed long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labors.  Now, at Alabama, he has the opportunity to enhance his legacy in a way that will cement his name into the annals of Alabama and college football history.  In addition to being the only coach in the BCS era to win two national titles at two different schools, by staying at Alabama he can become the first coach since 1995 to win outright national titles in back to back seasons.  He can become the first coach since the 1940s to win three titles in four years.  He can challenge Bear Bryant for winning the most titles (6) in their coaching career.  We are talking about a tremendous legacy here.

As Saban continues to have success on the field with championships and off the field in recruiting, he’s turned every other college football coaching job into, at best, a lateral move.  As for the NFL, he’s been there and done that and he’s stated that he’s not going back there numerous times.  Terry Saban wields a tremendous amount of influence in the household we get the sincere impression she’s not going back the NFL, either.

The Bama Lighthouse predicts that Coach Nick Saban will remain with Alabama until his passion for coaching has left his body and has been replaced by complacency or fatigue.  How long will that be?  Well, Saban is a very fit 61 years old so we could see him coaching until 68 or maybe even 70 but you’d have to think that his intense everyday grind would eventually take its toll on him.  But, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno and Bill Snyder have all proven that age can just be a number so you can never say never when speculating about Saban’s retirement. 

Once Saban retires, the guess here is that he heads to the lake, kicks his heels up and becomes completely stir crazy in the span of about one minute.  If his passion for coaching burns out before his health does, we would expect him to take a year off, become irritatingly restless and then get back into coaching somewhere close to his native West Virginia, bringing the Saban coaching legacy full circle – back where it all began.  But, we don’t see this happening any time soon.  So, the Lighthouse advises Bama fans to sit back and enjoy the ride while the other fan bases concoct hopeless fantasy after hopeless fantasy about Saban moving to another destination.



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