Saban uncertainty lingers

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Over the weekend, both Peter King and I spent time kicking tires and shaking branches on the question of whether Alabama coach Nick Saban will at some point soon not be the Alabama coach and instead coach an NFL team.

King learned that the likelihood of Saban shedding the Tide for the Browns in the coming weeks remains extremely small if not nonexistent.  I learned that Saban currently hasn’t percolated to the top of the NFL “A” list because no one believes he’s ready to return to pro football.

On Monday, Saban spent time talking about his last time in the NFL, explaining that he wanted Drew Brees over Daunte Culpepper but that Brees failed a physical, due to a shoulder injury suffered on the final day of the 2005 regular season.  Though Saban also said he intends to stay in Tuscaloosa, Saban’s credibility on these matters forever was forfeited in late December 2006, when he declared over and over (and over) again that he wouldn’t be returning to the college ranks.  Not long before he did.

And so, as Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports points out, the signals are mixed; one source says that Saban will never return to the NFL while another says that Saban is on the short list to be hired by the Browns not long after the BCS national title game.

Which could mean that Saban is at least toying with the idea of another NFL run.  Which could be aimed solely at squeezing even more money out of the football program that he has made the most successful in the nation.

Ultimately, Saban has to choose between trying to continue to climb the same mountain that he has scaled multiple times and chasing a championship at the highest level of the sport.  Until he wins in the NFL, Saban won’t have the true respect of his former peers.

In the end, that’s what could pull him back, at some point.  Coaches like Paterno and Bowden and Bryant never worried about the NFL because the NFL never was part of their universe.  For Saban, he knows that the guys he worked with and against in pro football don’t and won’t view him as a truly great coach until he can win in the NFL.

Of course, going to a team with a great quarterback would go a long way toward helping Saban become a great coach.  In the end, then, the question of whether he goes back to the NFL could hinge on whether he’ll be joining a team that has the most important position on the field taken care of.

The only problem?  Most teams with truly great quarterbacks aren’t looking to hire a new coach.

55 responses to “Saban uncertainty lingers

  1. He should stick to college where his best talents (recruiting & motivating kids) can be used to make him one of the best ever.

    Job security is there, the pay is there, the publicity. I wouldn’t leave.

  2. Saban’s comments about Brees have nothing to do with returning to the NFL. They are because he is about to go to Miami for the BCS championship game and doesn’t want the Miami media (most still despise him) to ambush him with irrelevant questions about his decisions with the Dolphins. His wife’s comments are more interesting on that subject than his.

  3. Why would any NFL organisation want him? He lied he cannot draft or evaluate talent. Everyone one of his 1st round selections in Miami where busts.

  4. Most teams with truly great quarterbacks aren’t looking to hire a new coach.
    The Saints might be looking, if the deal with Payton isn’t done.

    We all know how popular Saban is in N’Awlins.

  5. Sure he is toying with the idea of returning to NFL and he does have close ties in cleveland, oh wait! Trent Richardson from Alabama is the starting back for Browns…Saban doesn’t believe in commitment, he’s an opportunity seeker $$$

  6. I don’t blame him. Who would want to coach in the NCAA for a prolonged period of a time. You can have the best team in the country and whether you get a chance to prove that you’re the best team is decided by a vote, and not on the field. More than half the voters don’t even watch the games.In the NFL it’s all proven on the field.

    Plus the Browns have one of the best fan bases. Whoever turns that franchise around is going to be the man.

  7. “For Saban, he knows that the guys he worked with and against in pro football don’t and won’t view him as a truly great coach until he can win in the NFL.” —the only ‘great’ coach he worked with was Belicheck who happens to be a once in a generation coach.

    Everybody else that he’s worked with from S.Pioli, Mangini, Schwartz and the GM for the Falcons are not exactly viewed as great coaches/administrators.

  8. As previously stated, Saban is a recruiter and a motivator — one of the finest aggregators of talent to coach in college sports.

    What he is NOT is a strategist or an innovative football mind. Where Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll can succeed at this level, Saban ultimately will not, because no one is going to hand him superior talent he’s always had in college.

  9. I honestly think Weeden would do alright if Saban ends up with the Browns! The guy actually has a better completion percentage, less INT’s than Luck, and is somewhere around 5 or 6 All-Time for Passing yards as a rookie, with the youngest team in the NFL!

    He just needs a good coach!

  10. For what it’s worth, Nick Saban had full control and final say on ALL football matters when he was with the Dolphins. The Brees/Culpepper decision was his, not the team’s doctors. He’s lying. It’s what he does.

  11. 1st of all: Saban is a Great college fb coach. I hate him because he jilted my Spartys, but the man can absolutely sell his program and motivate college kids like few others in history.

    That said, the League is even more of a different league than his previous stint. He should stay right where he’s at.

  12. The Saints might be looking. Hence the sudden pandering to Brees? Saben never mentioned this before, why now? Everything is calculated with guys like him. He can’t be trusted.

  13. Who gives a crap about Saban. He’s a tool. Can coach at the pro level because he’s used to talking down to his players and treating them like children. His crap doesn’t fly in the NFL, we’ve seen it before. That and he was terrible in “The Blind Side”, could even convincingly play himself.

  14. The uncertainty lingers…..well, that can happen with a completely media-manufactured story that has no reliable basis nor other information that said “story” is actually likely to happen in the least.

  15. Highly successful and motivated people are always looking for the next challenge. At Bama, wins aren’t celebrated, they are expected. A new owner that will pay him and give him the keys could be enough to entice him to take a second shot at the pro ranks.

  16. If the skill sets were substantially the same, there would be a much greater migration of coaching talent from the college to pro ranks. Saban’s college success stems largely from being able to sell his program to speedy, strong and highly skilled players and the assemblage of talent overwhelms most opponents. Taking nothing away from his coaching staffs, it seems that his teams win more by having superior athletes than by scheme and game planning. Saban’s strengths and style didn’t translate favorably with the Dolphins and there is little evidence to suggest that his approach could be dramatically different if given a second opportunity. Of course, the forces of ego, pride and money might force an attraction between a suffering franchise and a coach seeking greater adulation.

  17. No way he leaves bama forr some nfl team no matter what and how much he gets offered! He is a god at bama,why would he want to give that up?

  18. I don’t buy it. He’s a god in Bama; he’s wildly succesful and he’s already 61. Why would he leave that for another shot in the NFL?

  19. And somehow Brees passed a physical in New Orleans only days later… If I ever become a billionaire, I will buy Little Debbie and discontinue Oatmeal Cream Pies so this bundle of sticks loses his mind

  20. People forget, one of Saban’s buddies failed at his first head coaching stint. His name, Bill Belichick. Winning at Alabama has become too easy and Saban will want one last shot at the big show before he hangs his hat up.

  21. If anything, he’s probably just trying to get more $ from Alabama. I don’t see any reason for him to try the NFL again. The NCAA and NFL require two very different approaches to head coaching and Saban has already bombed in the NFL. He’s nearing the apex of greatness in college coaching and has a great team and organization built at Tuscaloosa with almost complete control over it. I’m a long way from believing he may throw all of that aside to try the NFL again.

  22. When you’re competitive you want to go up against the best. The best are in the NFL. He does have a very sweet gig in the college ranks though.

  23. “The only problem? Most teams with truly great quarterbacks aren’t looking to hire a new coach.”

    Why not San Diego? The QB is Pro Bowl worthy when he has a decent LT and a defense that runs the 3-4, his speciality. It’s not Miami and after some solid draft picks they could be a playoff team.

  24. Nick will NOT be the Browns next coach….
    He will stay at Alabama…..
    Until he follows Bill Belechek and becomes the next coach of the New England Patriots…..

  25. Nick Saban will never leave Bama on his own unless he gets run out. His success goes hand in hand with his recruiting and the name Alabama recruits for itself and he would never have the same success at the next level. Does anyone think we would be having this conversation if he coached for FIU or Arkansas State?

  26. Double standard, maybe? Saban is over sixty and getting press for possible HC jobs in the NFL. Bruce Arians is the same , but, oh, he’s too old to be HC in the NFL.

  27. Saban stunk and Michigan State and he stunk at Miami. He’s only successful in the SEC.

    It’s pretty obvious Saban needs the advantages of the SEC where you can get a ham sandwich admitted academically and cheating is encouraged.

    Throw in that the polls are rigged for the SEC so they get to lose a game and still go to the BCS, and why should he leave?

  28. Saban will never be successful at the pro level because every team gets to spend money.

    Unlike the bankrolls he had at LSU or Alabama, the NFL gives coaches a level playing field, and Saban has proven that he can’t play with the adults when everyone has a checkbook like his.

  29. I think if Saban wins the national championship he would more than likely return to the NFL. Especially if he denies it, then I would be convinced he is returning to the NFL……….. Possibly to replace Andy Reid.

  30. Everyone focusing on Payton to the cowboys is a smokescreen. It will really be Saban to the cowboys. Put money on it. It’s already in the works according to those who know the situation.
    Dallas is a high caliber program that can attract similar style of high quality athletes. Jerry J and Saban both are egomaniacs that have fallen in love with each other and in Romo there is a stable high quality QB to go along with a defense.

    It will happen.

  31. Saban is coming back in only one scenario:

    Payton -> Cowboys if Garrett is toast.
    Then he goes to the Saints and gets Brees, that is why he really made the comment.

  32. For those who wish to stir things up as the Tide prepare for yet another NC game have the Miami episode to fall back on as well as the “succeed at the highest level” narrative. But that narrative is hardly factual. Who says that you must win in the NFL to be considered the best? Who says college is easier? Who says the NFL is harder? They are very different to be sure. But where is it etched in stone that dealing with kids,irrational alumni,seasons wrecked by one loss etc. is easier than the NFL? Who says anyone who succeeds in the NFL will succeed in college or vice versa. It makes good fodder for speculation,but little more. In reality,the LSU/Dolphins/Tide events serve as the biggest reason that Nick Saban stays where he is. Leaving LSU was a mistake. He says so.His wife says so.Going to Miami was a mistake. He says so.His wife says so. Going to Alabama was a wonderful thing. He says so.His wife says so. They like it.It is an entirely different challenge.One that few NFL coaches have met or could meet. He is very well paid to meet the challenge and going to the Pros and becoming yet another name in the parade of scapegoats and babysitter of millionaires that comprise the majority of NFL coaches has little appeal. People learn and earn from their mistakes. Going to the dysfunctional world of the NFL was a mistake. Relying on idiot egotistical ownership,bumbling GM’s and spoiled players to achieve success was a disheartening experience for the Saban family. Alabama has proven a professional challenge,a financial windfall and a great family environment in a beautiful part of the country. Saban loves what he is doing. The people of Alabama love what he is doing. Cleveland,New York,Dallas,San Diego,Chicago,Miami,Jacksonville,Tampa?? Please…

  33. There is no chance of Nick Saban becoming the HC of the Browns, IF Joe Banner is in charge of the football side of the Browns.

    If Saban is guaranteed total control over the football side (head coach and general manager) of the Browns, the Saban to Cleveland talk might be a realistic possibility.

    But as it stands today, Joe Banner is in charge of the football side of the Browns…a position and responsibility Banner has never held. Banner has never been in charge of the football side of a franchise.

    Browns fans have been disappointed so many times, it really is hard to get excited about such unrealistic rumors as Saban to Cleveland.

  34. As a Browns fan im kinda scetchy bout this move (if i does happen) we been rebuilding since 99 its been a rotating door at the H.C. and the QB postions. We have a young team and with Saban at the age he is and never really winning at the NFL level makes me nervous to bring him in. I say stay with the young H.C. we have in Shurmur who seems to have us going in somewhat the right direction are bring in a experienced and proven NFL H.C. … someone like Gruden, Coward, Sean Payton, Andy Reid, or worse case Bill Belleck GO BROWNS!

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