Four effects of Saban re-committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia

The brief Nick Saban drama is over, and fans are split over what really happened. Some suggest that it was all nonsense; a ridiculous attempt by the media at creating something out of nothing. Others will suggest that Saban was just trying to use his leverage for more money.

Related: Update on SEC coaching changes and searches

Here’s a few things I”ll suggest as some food for thought. First, these are very complex processes. Most reports indicate a lot of internal division within the Texas Athletic Department, their boosters and others affiliated with the program. Moreover, throw in the agents such as Jimmy Sexton, who represents Nick Saban. There may have been a great number of conversations exploring the possibility of Nick Saban coaching at Texas. He very well may have considered it, then decided to remain at Alabama. Only Saban knows how close the two options were in his mind, but to believe that he never considered it simply because he re-signed at Alabama isn’t necessarily true. Of course, when the deal is done, both sides will act like they won and never even considered the alternative, but that’s just PR at this point.

Second, why did Saban let this linger at all once the national media picked up the story and ran with it for several days? Saban, of course, doesn’t need to respond to the media every time members of the media speculate on Saban’s future, but this was different. This was a major story headlining all media outlets around the country across internet, television and radio. Why let it linger once it went to such levels of intensity?

Related: Four SEC coaches on Texas’ radar

Again, nobody knows, but here’s one possibility. The Saban to Texas drama ended all criticism of Nick Saban and the recent Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Admittedly, the criticism was minimal (as it should have been), but once Alabama fans considered that they might lose Saban, a quiet hush moved over the fan base. Did Saban letting this linger for a few days serve as a reminder to Alabama fans that he’s in control? That he’s still the man in Tuscaloosa? That fans should be grateful that he’s their coach? Maybe.

Now the story shifts. He’s re-signed with Alabama, and reports are that he will make on average between $7 million and $7.5 million each year with the Crimson Tide.

As a result, there are only a few NFL coaches that earn more money than Saban annually. In college athletics, only Duke’s Mike Krzyewski earns more (which is crazy in and of itself).

With the new deal in place, let’s look at the effects of Saban remaining at Alabama for the coming years:

  1. Nick Saban’s legacy at Alabama can grow – Last week, I asked what would happen to the Nick Saban statue outside the stadium if he left Alabama for another school. That would have been quite an interesting dynamic to watch unfold, but we don’t have to speculate anymore. He’s remaining, and his legacy now has the chance to build. You can debate the Bear vs Nick argument in terms of who is the bigger coach, but now, we might get the opportunity to debate which coach will have the larger legacy at Alabama. If Saban can win another championship or two, he might approach Bear Bryant status at Alabama.
  2. The SEC West remains the best division in college football by far – If Alabama took a step backward as a result of Saban leaving, the SEC West would undoubtedly remain very challenging to win. With Saban keeping the program moving forward, the SEC West remains brutal. No division in college football comes close. Also, it’s bad news for guys looking to get to the next level like Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, guys in rebuild mode like Bret Beilema at Arkansas and even guys looking to stay in the SEC West race like Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. Oh yeah, LSU and Auburn should be right in the mix every year as well. Again, brutal.
  3. The Alabama-Auburn rivalry will be fantastic in the coming years – Can we fast-forward to when Gus Malzahn and Auburn have to travel to Tuscaloosa next year to face Alabama? Wow, that’s going to be excellent. The rivalry between the two styles of Malzahn and Saban should be outstanding for years to come. The fact that Malzahn beat Saban in his first season to win the division makes the rivalry between these two coaches extra juicy.
  4. Money, Money, Money – The larger television deals are fueling larger salaries at the major college football programs. As the system contracts to fewer programs that benefit, more money is concentrated in programs like we have in the SEC. Look at these new deals: Malzahn is just under $4 million (he coached high school football not long ago!), Sumlin is doing $5 million annually. All of a sudden, making $3 million as an SEC football coach is chump change. As the average coaching salary increases, beware of increasing numbers of the media world pontificating on how athletes are unpaid.

Even if you’re not an Alabama fan, most SEC fans are excited to see Nick Saban remain at Alabama. Sure, he might make life difficult for the other teams in the conference, but isn’t it fun to try to beat the best?



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  • “but to believe that he never considered it simply because he re-signed at Alabama isn’t necessarily true.”

    1. Because he and his wife both said so since all this hogwash started gaining momentum. You just didn’t report what you didn’t want to hear…
    2. It was never about the money. It was about quelling a rumor that distracted the team for the last month of the season. This was by design. Every Big, Pac, ACC and Big 12 homer in the media wanted it so and not a single one of them considered that it was not true because they wanted it to be, so badly.
    3. Repeat 1 and 3 as needed until this hogwash dies the death it should have died months ago…..
    BTW, Jimmy Sexton would NEVER go around Nick or any of his clients to do something that out of character. Mack Brown and Saban are friends. Nick would never allowed Sexton to even make an exploratory call. The only people that think otherwise are longwhorn and Awbrens fans…….

    • I disagree with you. I’m not an Auburn fan or Longhorn fan, but I do believe that Jimmy Sexton talked to Texas and made it clear to Alabama that he was talking to Texas. That’s his job. If he’s not doing that, then I’m not sure Saban needs Sexton.

  • Let’s not forget, Jimmy Sexton doesn’t only serve the interests of Nick Saban, he also serves the interests of Jimmy Sexton! One thing that you have to consider about an agent that represents multiple NCAA coaches is that the more turmoil he stirs up (not just Alabama-Texas) the more that he is coaches and, in return, he gets paid. I just wonder how many coaches would put up with the bullshit. I really don’t see Saban giving Sexton free reign to operate on his behalf considering how Nick is such a control freak. Everything about sports is money!

    • Good points, and I agree. Also, Jimmy Sexton represents a number of clients. When Saban gets bumped to $7 million, it helps inflate salaries elsewhere. Jimbo Fisher I believe is also represented by Sexton. Let’s see if Jimbo’s name starts popping up for Texas and what kind of increase in pay it results for Jimbo (and Sexton).

  • Second, why did Saban let this linger at all once the national media picked up the story and ran with it for several days? Saban, of course, doesn’t need to respond to the media every time members of the media speculate on Saban’s future, but this was different. This was a major story headlining all media outlets around the country across internet, television and radio. Why let it linger once it went to such levels of intensity?
    He did answer it, many many times, he talked about it on 60 Minutes, he talked about it on his radio show, his wife stated to the Wall Street Journal that they weren’t leaving, but every time they said that the response was, we he’s said that before…now its that he didnt respond enough?? he was out recruiting and even our recruits said they told him he was staying, how many more times did he need to say it, and how many more times COULD he have said it that the media would have accepted his answer….he’s resigned with us for $7 mil and he’s STILL listed as a possibility in EVERY article about the Texas job hunt…lol…at some point he decided that working and recruiting before the dead period was more important than talking about a job he wasnt going to take…

  • Coaches, celebrities, politicians and other high profile people commonly deny any interest in a job opening or acceptance until it happens. High profile job openings, possible job overtures and hot seat situations in sports (college and pro) are fodder for speculation, rumor and innuendo. What is not often understood by the public, or the media, is it is actually high stakes gamesmanship.

    Unlike the average person who can have contact with or from a potential new employer in virtual secrecy; public figures have to conduct personal business in a 24 hour news cycle with a voracious appetite for anything controversial, speculative or sensational.
    The University of Texas coaching position, with Saban’s signing of a new Alabama contract, has now placed a half-dozen or so coaches in the same precarious fishbowl the Crimson Tide coach lived in the last month. Every time he denied interest in pushing aside his longtime friend Mack Brown at UT, the blogosphere would blow up with another angle on the story.

    To call Nick Saban a liar because of the way he handled his eventual departure from Miami reveals more about the name caller than Saban. Admittedly, Saban did not handle that chapter of his career well. Although he reportedly turned down then Bama Athletic Director Mal Moore’s job offer several times, Moore did not give up. He kept channels open with Saban agent Jimmy Sexton. I take Saban at his word that he had no intentions of leaving Miami but Moore eventually made it impossible for him to say ‘no’ any longer.
    When a coach still has a team to coach and games to play, most will not take the risk of losing their current team by confirming they are considering another job. That is where agents like Sexton earn their money. They do the actual contact and negotiations while leaving the coach plausible deniability. It may just be semantics but it is how the game is played. The fact that Saban denied he was leaving in his usual confrontational style exacerbated the name calling when he did accept employment at UA.

    How many times has a coach vehemently denied stories of their imminent departure from dear ole State U only to see them popup elsewhere a few days or weeks later? Obviously the process had been going on in the background for at least a few days. (By the way, employers do the same thing. There is nothing scarier to a coach than the dreaded, “Coach has our complete confidence” statement from an athletic director or team owner. Often than means put a moving van on standby.)

    Typically, the average Joe employee who is talking to a different employer about another job will not tell their current employer until they see they have the new job in hand. Often then the employee will inform their current boss about the new job ‘offer’ to see if they will match the money and/or improve working conditions. It is not wise to tip your hand too early.

    High profile jobs are no different, except they are played out in the media. And the media these days are more than a newspaper or broadcast station. Add social media, bloggers and Tweets to the mix and anything goes. Anybody can make any claim, quote fictitious sources and just plain fabricate a story and it explodes around the nation and world.

    To the disappointment of SEC West fans other than Alabama, continuance of the Saban era in Tuscaloosa means the Crimson Tide will not be backing off its success on the on the field and in recruiting.

    As for his legacy, to the younger generation Saban is just as great or greater than the ‘the Bear’ because they never knew Bryant. Just like Bryant’s legacy was bigger than that of Frank Thomas and Wallace Wade (who both earned multiple titles at Bama).

    And you are right Kevin. Next season’s Iron Bowl should be fun.

  • no doubt Texas moguls thought anyone is for sale. Texas apparently has the same disease that Bama had during the J>B> Whitworth era. To wit, too many chefs in the kitchen. Nick saw that and it prevented him considering any conversation when his family was firmly settled in tuscaloosa and he new he had near absolute control. some texas counties may be near as big as Alabama and there’s no doubt they’ve got sacks of cash but that doesn’t mean anything when you’ve made the home at which you want to finish your career. Coach Saban already has more money than he’ll live to spend and central Texas is not the garden spot of the earth..sorry Tex.

  • Was driving through Alabama, when all this was going on. Listening to a certain “sports call in show”. The Bama fans seemed liked jilted lovers or something. They for the most part were acting like they were scared to death their beloved Nick Saban was going to leave them at the alter. And yes it is because you can’t believe what he or Jimmiy Sexton say. Saban could have put it all to rest. However, he let the Bama faithfull dangle out there for a few days. And brother were they Dangling! I thought to myself…since he demanded all the fans (all be it students) not leave while we’re pounding teams like Georgia State. He will next demand all Bamers line up and kiss the butt of his statue outside Bryant-Denny.

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