Nearly seven years to the day after Nick Saban notoriously said, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” he has essentially said that he’s always going to be the Alabama coach.
“We are excited about the future and the University of Alabama is where I plan to end my coaching career,” Saban said in a statement issued in connection with his new contract extension in Tuscaloosa, via CFT.
Key word: Plan. Plans can change. Plans do change.
Saban wasn’t speaking off the cuff. It was a written statement. Every word of a written statement is, or at least should be, picked with care.
“Plan” sends a far different message than “will.” Saban didn’t say will. He’ll never say will.
And that will leave the door open, even if only a crack, for a chance to show that he can compete at the highest level of the sport, where the draft and salary cap prevents the best recruiter in football history from stocking the roster and sweet-talking backups who would be starters elsewhere into staying put.
While a return to pro football remains unlikely, the right set of circumstances could lure Saban back. It likely would take a lot of money, a franchise quarterback with five or more years left to play, a great cap situation, the availability of a G.M. whom Saban trusts to help make excellent personnel decisions, and an owner who will butt out and let Saban do his thing.
Those planets may not line up before the 62-year-old Saban’s plans necessarily become reality. But with Saban, it’s always important to expect the unexpected.
Like, you know, Saban staying with Alabama at a time when it appeared he’d be headed to Texas.