The internet is awash with rumors on Nick Saban possibly leaving Alabama to take the Texas job. While speculation runs rampant, it doesn’t appear to be completely unwarranted. After all, Saban and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, could end the speculation at any time if they’d like. It’s been reported that Saban has had a raise and a contract extension sitting on his desk for days now, so if he’s not signing it, he’s either jockeying for more money from Alabama, weighing his options further or just wants to torture Alabama fans.
Here are ten questions I have regarding Saban’s status at Alabama and the possibility of taking the Texas job:
- How impactful is the departure of AJ McCarron? I believe it’s huge. McCarron is to Saban as Tebow was to Meyer. Saban loves McCarron. You saw two great moments this year after Texas A&M when Saban spoke about trusting McCarron, and you saw it against LSU when Saban literally jumped into McCarron’s arms in a moment where emotion took the better of Saban’s usual hard-ass demeanor. McCarron might not make plays like Manziel, but he’s the on-field general that makes Saban’s life and march to a championship much easier. There’s no McCarron in 2014.
- Has Saban topped out? Let’s face it. There’s only one direction to go — down. He’s taken Alabama football to the top, and there’s nothing more he can achieve other than more of the same. Fans are fans, and they tend to have a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality. If Saban doesn’t win the National Championship in any of the upcoming 3 years or so, fans might start to groan. He knows this.
- Is it harder to stay on top than get to the top? It’s a legitimate question. Winning three titles in four years is simply incredible. You saw this year how it took a simple field goal return in the Iron Bowl to ruin the march to a 3rd straight and 4th in five years. When you get to the top, everyone guns for you. When you are the standard, coaches either try to replicate your system or they implement systems and schemes meant to directly counteract your system. Lastly, when you’re at the top, it becomes increasingly difficult to hang on to assistant coaches. Staying on top is very difficult.
- Is Saban a builder? This is the longest head coaching tenure for Nick Saban. We know he’s damn good at building up a program and taking it from mediocrity to excellence. Mission accomplished at Alabama. Does he get bored once he’s performed this aspect of the job?
- If Saban left, would Alabama promote Kirby Smart? Paul Finebaum thinks so. It’s a similar move to what we saw with Oregon when Chip Kelly left. It’s an attempt to maintain continuity and keep the momentum going rather than bring in a new CEO with a new system and a new method of doing things. I have my doubts about this philosophy and would have my doubts about promoting Kirby Smart rather than bringing in an outsider.
- If Saban leaves, is Auburn on top of the mountain in terms of the rivalry? I think you’d have to say so considering Malzahn’s success this year and Auburn playing for a National Championship. As long as Saban is coaching at Alabama, I’ll say they’re the favorites moving forward, but if Saban takes off, all bets are off. That would be quite an insane flip of statuses between the two Alabama programs in just 12 months.
- Is Texas an appealing job for Saban? Of course it is. It’d be an appealing job for anyone. It’s the biggest brand in the country. It’s a fairly easy conference to dominate. The recruiting is fertile. The money is big. The town is great. There’s probably only one job Saban would leave Alabama for…and Texas is probably it.
- If Saban leaves, what happens to the statue? It’s one thing for Meyer to leave, take a year off, then take the Ohio State job, but to leave a program and go directly to another program, it’ll be interesting to see how fans react. They have a statue of Saban and let’s just say it’s an interesting dynamic to ponder.
- If Saban stays put, does he leave in the next couple years? I don’t think so. If there’s a time to leave to another program, it’s this year, and it’s Texas. As I said, Auburn is rebounding, McCarron is gone, and we all assume that the Texas job will be open (still occupied by Mack Brown as of writing this). If Saban stays put, he’ll likely retire in Tuscaloosa.
- Should Alabama match any dollar amount that Texas throws at Saban? There are $10 million annually for 10 years rumors going around, and now we’re talking crazy numbers. If there’s any truth to this, I’m not sure Alabama matches it, and I’m not sure they should. Nobody has done more for a program than Nick Saban, but I don’t think any program should have that sort of financial commitment to a coach. Smarter people than I will decide this, but I tend to appreciate the St. Louis Cardinals approach to the Albert Pujols deal… he gave us great years, we’re really appreciative, but we can’t commit to a contract like this, we wish Albert the best in the future. It might be hard to see it now, but Alabama football is bigger than Nick Saban.
If you’re an Alabama fan, I’d say that there’s no need to panic. Until something changes, it’s probably smart to assume that Saban will remain at Alabama. He’s got a machine going, and he’ll compete every year.
We’ll stay tuned and keep an eye out for news on a possible raise and extension at Alabama, or if Saban pulls a shocker and departs his current job.