“I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” 10 years later

Getty Images

A decade ago, Nick Saban was finishing his second season as coach of the Miami Dolphins. Rumors had been swirling for months that he was miserable in the NFL (then again, he’s always miserable), given the inability of a pro coach to stack the deck with talent the way that he does at the college level via recruiting.

More specifically, the decision of then-West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez to pass on a chance to succeed Mike Shula at Alabama had sparked numerous reports that Saban could end up in Tuscaloosa. He was asked about it repeatedly at press conferences, and eventually he decided to slam the door and flip the deadbolt.

“I guess I have to say it,” Saban said on December 21, 2006. “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”

Ten years to the day later, Saban is still the Alabama coach.

Although there’s a chance he was telling the truth at the time and not simply attempting in clumsy fashion to avoid admitting that he may be leaving South Florida for college football, the statement became, and remains, Exhibit A for the proposition that football coaches often lie for strategic reasons. Which makes it hard to take anything they ever say at face value.

So don’t blame us when we parse your words and/or try to find reasons to not believe them, football coaches. Blame it on Nick Saban.

61 responses to ““I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” 10 years later

  1. This is why we cannot blame college football players for skipping bowl games. This is a business and people in it act in their own self interest. I heard someone on NFL Radio on my drive home saying that NFL general managers should look on these decisions in a negative light of having to deal with selfish draft picks and that the bowl game gives scouts an important chance to see them and get more film. Again, this is all about objectifying these kids and not respecting them. Great move by the kids in avoiding injury risk and protecting their draft positions. If it impacts your enjoyment of watching the freaking Sun Bowl, get a life.

  2. I don’t know why the media expects coaches or players to be brutally honest with them. Anything they say will be sliced and diced, misinterpreted, and taken out of context to the point of lunacy. I wouldn’t tell them a thing. Marshawn Lynch wouldn’t play their game and I don’t blame him or Saban or any of them.

  3. Been a Dolphin fan my whole life. The time he was the coach was the least enjoyable time ive ever had as a fan and ive lived through 1-15 seasons. He completely shut the fans out. Wouldn’t let coaches or players talk to media. Only he was allowed to speak and never says anything. Just acts like a jerk. Completely disconnected the fans from the team.

  4. I’ll bet Nick Saban would be happy to coach the Rams if they gave him a 5 year 10MM/year contract.

    See, that was easy.

  5. Crazy how one decision like Rich Rod passing up Bama changed the college football landscape for over a decade (and who knows how much longer). 4 national championships (and probably more to come) later, I don’t think made the wrong choice…

  6. Oh man, hard to believe there was once a time where RichRod was viewed as a better college coach than Saban. What a disaster Alabama avoided there. Instead he went and turned Michigan into a dumpster fire.

  7. Saban was 6-10 when he dumped the Fins. No big loss.

    Go ahead and leave, but leave with a little class.

  8. I don’t know what you expect someone to say in that situation, you are going to find a way to criticize them if they talk or if they remain silent
    It amazes me that the media believes it’s right to know is above all else. Especially everything we have learned about the media over the last year-we now know the media’s motivation is not to inform the public about what is really going on, it is about shaping public opinion in a certain direction

  9. I know I’m the minority, but I think he would have been a very good NFL coach….he’s the Alabama coach because the Dolphins signed Dante Cullpepper instead of Drew Brees. IMO if Brees ends up in Miami, Saban might still be there.

  10. >> Football coaches often lie for strategic reasons. Which makes it hard to take anything they ever say at face value. <<

    It goes way beyond football coaches. Politicians, CEO's, lawyers, (and tons of other professions) have all been known to lie for strategic reasons.

    It has nothing to do with the profession of being a coach in and of itself. Lying is a personal choice, no matter what profession you are in.

  11. why do you hate nick saban so much? he made one mistake with that comment, and do you know how many other coaches in college have had just as much talent and havent been able to win like he has??

  12. NFL coaches success is dependent on the owner and front office, bill belichick has control over the front office hence why the pats are always playing at the very least deep into january

  13. Didn’t like him at Toledo, didn’t like him at Michigan State, didn’t like him at LSU, didn’t like him at…you get the point.

    We as fans of either the pro game or college game would all benefit greatly if Nick just went away. I guess if he could take Richard Sherman with him he’d get a slight uptick in likability from me and probably some others.

  14. Yet people continue to support the Saban’s of the world while vociferously criticizing Fournette and McCaffrey. All you people claiming that the college players should be loyal to their coaches need to go soak your heads somewhere.

  15. pardonmyjake says:
    Dec 21, 2016 9:11 AM

    NFL coaches success is dependent on the owner and front office, bill belichick has control over the front office hence why the pats are always playing at the very least deep into january

    ———-
    And there are plenty of coaches who have (or had) control over the roster and failed miserably. Buying your own groceries doesn’t help if you can’t cook or plan a menu.

  16. Saban is the carrot out in front that the rest of the field has to chase. He’s the best thing to happen to college football in the past 10 years bar none. He raised the bar across the nation.

    Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh…..they are all the same type of coach. Arrogant and a bit bombastic but they are all great for college football. IMO the NFL is at an all time low while college football is now just beginning to peak.

  17. He’s been a mainstay at Alabama, and compared to some college/pro coaches, has actually moved around comparatively little. He knew that he needed Brees in Miami to compete against New England and his friend Belichick and Brady, and knew that with Culpepper at QB he’d be fired in 3 years or less with the Dolphins and jobs like Bama would be lost to him forever.
    So cut him a break. He’s more than delivered as promised at Bama, and stayed. IF he want to the Rams for big money– personally I think they’ll go for their former OC McDaniels, instead- then more power to Saban.

  18. Please feel free to take as many shots at Saban as you can. Not only is he a poor personality/liar, but like so many coaches he gets placed on a pedestal as a “legendary” coach, when in fact all he is is a fabulous recruiter. Unlike many other “legendary” coaches (whom I am also rather unimpressed with), Saban has his actual coaching skills put to the test on a reasonably level playing field, and he couldn’t cut the mustard. He is a PROVEN not-so-special “coach”.

  19. This is ridiculous, why would anyone who was leaving a job announce it a month in advance? Of course he going to lie, and so he should, he’s got three choices, stay and coach in the NFL, Lie about accepting a job in the college ranks or quit on the spot and join his new team like Petrino did….Saban is a horrible human being for many reasons, this just happens NOT to be one of them….

  20. To be honest, if the Dolphins signed Brees instead of Culpepper, Saban probably stays and the Dolphins win or at least contend for multiple Super Bowls. He was miserable in the NFL, but he probably wouldn’t have been with an elite Quarterback.

    Don’t be mistaken though, I blame Saban for this. He could have been a great coach in the NFL but he was terrible at talent evaluation in the pros.

  21. jvw1982 says:
    Dec 21, 2016 10:34 AM
    This is ridiculous, why would anyone who was leaving a job announce it a month in advance? Of course he going to lie, and so he should, he’s got three choices, stay and coach in the NFL, Lie about accepting a job in the college ranks or quit on the spot and join his new team like Petrino did….Saban is a horrible human being for many reasons, this just happens NOT to be one of them….

    Completely agreed. I despise Saban for several reasons, but as a Dolphins fan, I would have been even more angry had Saban announced he was leaving in advance.

  22. pastabelly says:

    This is why we cannot blame college football players for skipping bowl games. This is a business and people in it act in their own self interest.
    —————
    You don’t get it. Saban didn’t quit on the team during the season, but fought to the last game (unlike Petrino).

    College players are part of a team. They made a commitment to their teammates and then bailed on the bowl game. Fournette and McCaffrey are great RBs, but much of their success was also because of the the great O-Line paving the way for their runs. And now these two quit on fellow teammates that had helped them get to the top of the draft board.

  23. goodellmustgoblog says:
    Dec 21, 2016 9:06 AM
    This story is so old, the last time I heard it Roger Goodell had credibility.
    =================================
    Wow!! That was a long time ago…….

    or did it ever exist?

  24. Or you writers and Dolphin fans can just..you know…let it go and stuff. Saban has moved on and will have 5 national titles in a few weeks and built the biggest powerhouse since the Canes back in the day. You guys just won’t let things go like bitter ex boyfriends or girlfriends.

  25. Can you imagine if the Dolphins signed Drew Brees instead of Daunte Culpepper. Saban and Brees combo Nick would still be the coach of the Dolphins and Maybe with a Championship in hand

  26. In my view Saban is a Tool. All he had to say was “I can not handle elite level grown men much easier going back to school with the youngsters. At least we would have seen an honest, honourable man admitting his limitations at that moment in his career, which you could understand. Instead he slithered off into the night. Ok I know it takes a strong character to realise when they do not have the qualities to push himself up to the next level, but at least admit it and tell the truth. That’s why I beleive he is a weak and pathetic little bully.

  27. I have to give him and most coaches the benefit of the doubt in that if they are in negotiations it may be something the hirer wants hidden and tells top candidates ‘please deny we are talking and considering you until the deal is done’. There may be legalities at work behind the scenes as in pay offs to the former position holder, etc. Who knows.
    I cant beleive they are all flat arse liars because they want to be.

  28. Poor Rich Rodriguez. Was hot at West Virginia, TURNED DOWN Alabama and now the poor guy is at Arizona. A basketball school. The football team is POOP.

  29. I have always been willing to cut Saban some slack on this issue. His team was in playoff contention at the time, and he had already rejected the Bama job once. If he had said, “Yes, I’m taking the Alabama job,” then his team would have quit on him with several games left in the season. Jason Taylor has openly said the same thing since his retirement.

    He probably should have just given the boring, “no comment” answer, which reporters hate and would have caused more speculation. But, at least he wouldn’t have people question his integrity, like some of the goofy comments above.

    Since he had already turned down the Bama job once I thought he was credible, but he shouldn’t have said anything at all since he took it later.

  30. Nothing like a lot of hating happening here for Saban and for Alabama. Let us be honest: not every college coach is cut out for the NFL (no fun league). Same game, but the locker room and front office is completely different. Spurrier, Saban, and others have excelled in college, with so so results in the NFL. As a Bama fan, we are thrilled to have Saban at Alabama. Roll Tide.

  31. Do your research or really follow what happens about a situation before you have diarrhea of the fingers. Saban did covet Brees, BUT after he fell in love with him and Brees preferred Mia to New Orleans,(he left New Orleans without a contract to go back to S. FL., Mia all of sudden made spend a day checking out his shoulder. Brees was spooked by it all and went back to N.O. and signed a deal. Mia, being ran by Saban and Saban alone, GM Spielman was a puppet, went the Culpepper route bc the Dolphins medical team said Culpepper would recover from his trashed knee quicker and better than Brees would. Saban listened to the doctors instead of going with his gut.

    He was a poor evaluator of talent while in Miami. Mostly all of his acquisitions there from a FA standpoint and the draft were a bust. Jamar Taylor? hahahaha. Cmon?

    As a Miami fan, I hated what Saban did, but it is a BUSINESS. The college game is a BUSINESS. Take off your jersey with another grown man’s name on it and realize all players and coaches are not thinking about anything but doing what is in their best interest and not team first, like little league.

    It’s been 10 years. Who cares!!! Miami FINALLY has a good, young coach and a pretty solid. Stop looking in the rearview mirror.

    AND BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

  32. He’s a douche bag. Guys like him die lonely because they are so arrogant and self centered that nobody really likes them.

  33. He’s a douche bag. Guys like him die lonely because they are so arrogant and self centered that nobody really likes them.

Leave a Reply