When it comes to his negotiations with the University of Texas, Alabama coach Nick Saban has plenty of leverage. Texas now may have some, too.
According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com (via CBS Sports), Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh are potential candidates for the Longhorns vacancy.
It sounds ridiculous on the surface. Why would coaches of two of the most prominent NFL franchises consider any college job?
For starters, the money may be a lot better than what Tomlin and Jim Harbaugh currently are making or eventually will be making in their NFL jobs in Pennsylvania and California, respectively, especially when considering that the head coach of the Texas Longhorns pays no state income tax.
Then there’s the thing that drew Saban back to college after a two-year stint with the Dolphins: Control.
True control. No salary cap, no draft, no aggressive media. No General Manager or others in the front office who’ll plant stories or whisper in the ear of the owner about how the coach should be blamed for struggles.
And no owner. While there’s an Athletics Director and a school president and a board, the coach becomes the highest paid, highest profile, and in turn highest powered figure in a college town with a major college football program.
There’s currently no reason to think Tomlin or Jim Harbaugh would be interested in leaving for Texas or any other team. But they both could be interested in extending and/or improving their current deals. (Tomlin is signed through 2016, and Jim Harbaugh is under contract through 2015.)
Besides, NFL head-coaching contracts don’t seem to be as meaningless as college contracts. Saban got out easily from his deal in Miami because he specifically negotiated the ability to leave for a college job.
Saban got that term because he had leverage. Saban currently has it again. Turning the gaze to other candidates gives Texas a little of it back. And it in turn gives Tomlin and Jim Harbaugh a little leverage of their own.
Especially if/when either or both declare, “I’m not going to be the Texas coach.”