Ten questions to ponder regarding Nick Saban and his job status

NCAA Football: Alabama at Kentucky

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.

Related: Alabama ready to give Saban a hefty raise

Here are ten questions I have regarding Saban’s status at Alabama and the possibility of taking the Texas job:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.



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  • I agree with #10. Look, Nick Saban is an outstanding coach – no question. However, he had just one season prior to Alabama where he lost less than three games – 2003, the year LSU won the National Championship. Go back and see how many times he was blown out at Michigan State and LSU. At Alabama, his largest margin of defeat has been 14 points. In fact, he has lost only three games by double digit margins. I think Alabama has helped Saban, just as other coaches all enjoyed their best success at Alabama – they could not duplicate it before or after their time at Bama. I don’t think Saban would have had the same success he has had at Alabama somewhere else. Nor do I think that he would repeat his success at Texas. If Texas offers him $10 Million annually and he wants to go, then I think Alabama lets him go. In fact, I do not think that Alabama should have offered Saban the $7 Million annual extension. However, that’s all I would offer if in fact it has been offered. Saban is too old to rebuild Texas. He would have to change some of his offensive and defensive strategies to have success there.

    I also agree with #5. I don’t think that Kirby Smart is ready to be Alabama’s head coach. He needs to go somewhere else as a head coach, have some success, and either return to Alabama later, or take another top ten program and go on from there. If Saban leaves, I would go after one of the Harbaugh brothers!

    • Saban just became a better coach as the years went on, if he was still at LSU, LSU would have won 5 NC’s. The only difference between the Alabama schools and the rest of the SEC is AU & UA dislike for one another so they will do what ever it takes to be one up on the other and their big $$$ boosters assist in trying to put the best teams that money can buy. “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying”

  • I didn’t think there was any chance he would leave Alabama for Texas, but with the rumors continuing this week, I now think there’s a chance he bolts. The amount of money that it being rumored to be in the Texas offer is ridiculous. College football is at an all time high and Saban is the best in the business.

  • It’s pretty surprising how you completely omit the counterpoints to your opinion on “Is Texas an appealing job for Saban?” Lots of folks have made extremely valid arguments about how awful Texas would look to someone like Saban. The Longhorn Network requirements, the power struggles there, the politics (including the Texas governor trying to sabotage the school by packing the board of regents with his cronies). See Pete Thamel’s article posted today.

    Hell, there’s enough smoke here that I can’t definitely state there is no fire. But you shouldn’t ignore the counterarguments.

    • Money Talks. It makes any place attractive and for $10 million a year, I would even move to Antarctica.

    • Of course. And there are plenty of reasons to stay at Alabama. In the end, I think it’ll be about personal reasons and not football reasons. Saban likely assumes he can dominate at either place, and the place he figures he’ll want to live throughout his 60s, where maybe a program can eliminate a few annoying parts of the job, etc. etc. Pretty fascinating!

    • Texas would be a step down for Saban, even for $10 million. Saban wants to win and he isn’t going to do that outside of the sec and at a school with major recruiting drawbacks, ie Longhorn network, quality of opponents, and an sec school down the road in College Station. Mack Brown is not a bad coach, but he can only do so much with what he has to work with.

      • major recruiting drawbacks?

        • Yes, major recruiting drawbacks. Tell me what Texas has that Texas A&M does not. Major national tv network No. Level of competition? No. Facilities? Average.

          I live here so tell me what Texas would have to offer other than money. My comment is pretty typical of Texas fans. Saban would not have near the success at Texas as he has at Bama.

        • Bama is a good institution, but facts are facts, Texas has ten times more to offer than any school in the SEC and I am an SEC fan. City- UT, Money-UT, Academics- UT, Recruiting- UT, quality of life- UT

      • Ellis is just trolling

      • I hope you realize how idiotic you sound….

        • I don’t, so instead of making an empty statement tell me why you disagree.

  • If he goes then he goes. I can’t say anyone can be disappointed with the last 7 years. I would actually be rather excited to see how Kirby Smart would run the program. It isn’t like Saban is going to be here forever anyways. Eventually the guy is going to retire. There is so much stress and pressure in his position(especially now) that I am surprised that he isn’t completely burnt out at this point. I’d definitely be.

    • After seeing his expression in the Iron Bowl, and earlier in the season after the Texas A&M game, he looks worn out pretty bad. Not saying that means he will be leaving or retiring, but after a while, the emotional wins and losses will get to you.

    • I dont wanna lose Saban but I agree about Smart. Besides, he has turned down plenty of jobs including Auburn to stay at Bama… reward the loyalty. Saban is like Jean-Luc Picard of the football world and Kirby is like Will Riker, passing up command after command fornthe big one.

  • I like the line that says…. “Alabama football is bigger than Nick Saban.” True, as it should be.

  • This piece appears to be written from the perspective of someone looking to see Saban leave. Does Saban love AJ? Of course, but do you follow recruiting? If so, then you know how many great QBs are lined up behind AJ. And that’s exciting. Not just for fans, but even for Saban.
    Has he topped out? No. In his mind, he’s still in the midst of a special dynasty and can continue to add to it starting next year.
    Is it hard to stay on top? Sure, but not when you are pulling in the recuriting classes he is.
    Is Texas appealing? Sure, but that conference is a major drawback and would be a step backwards from the SEC.

    • AJ & Saban has a lil Tebow / Meyer feel to it. Just a reminder that John Brantley and Jeff Driskel were top QB prospects out of high school. It doesn’t mean Alabama will follow the same path. I don’t think they will. My point is that I think many are incorrectly assuming that AJ McCarron is easily replaced.
      For the record, I hope he stays. He’s the best coach in football. Of course I hope he stays in the SEC.

  • Kirk Herbstreit on Saban going to Texas: “There’s no chance. No chance of that happening,” Herbstriet told the Dallas Morning News. “Nick Saban will work TV sitting next to us on our set before he’ll be the head coach at Texas … He’ll be at Alabama for another five years, and then he’ll be working TV after that … I know Nick Saban better than anybody. It’s not going to happen.”

  • #10 is the approach I will take as a Bama fan, if he does leave, and I would understand it, then thanks for the good years. It has been a lot of fun bring a Bama fan in the Saban era. With that being said, I really, really, really hope he stays and I think he will.

  • i say he leaves and i think kirby smart is a great replacement

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