Josh Gattis claims Nick Saban tried to get him to stay at Alabama: 'It did not go over well'
The way Josh Gattis tells it, Nick Saban was none too pleased to lose his receivers coach one season after hiring him away from Penn State.
If you didn’t catch the news last week, Gattis made the decision to leave Alabama’s staff and follow Mike Locksley to Maryland but at the 11th hour decided an offer to become Michigan’s new offensive coordinator was too good to pass up.
Gattis has a reputation as not only one of the best receiver coaches in the nation but one of the best recruiters. In his only season in Tuscaloosa, Alabama featured a Fred Biletnikoff Award winner in Jerry Jeudy and had a total of five receivers catch at least 40 passes and have at least 690 receiving yards. During his time at Penn State and Vanderbilt, those programs also featured standout all-conference receivers.
Following his move to Ann Arbor, Gattis was featured on Jim Harbaugh’s most recent “Attack Each Day” podcast. The podcast is meant to serve as Gattis’ introduction to the Michigan fan base, but he also discusses Alabama and Nick Saban during the show.
Before turning over the mic to Gattis, Harbaugh explains how he managed to lure his new offensive coordinator to Michigan.
“Found out through the grapevine that Josh was considering leaving Alabama, going to Maryland, we reached out and asked if he had any interest in Michigan,” Harbaugh said on the show. “So I called him at 9 o’clock in the morning and by 3:30 he was coming to Michigan with a signed memorandum of understanding. Then was on a plane here a day or two later.”
Michigan’s offensive coordinator was then asked to share his side of that story, and ironically enough, Gattis claimed he had just received one of Saban’s famous “ass chewings” just before Harbaugh called him to discuss coming to Michigan.
Here is what Gattis had to say about informing Saban he was leaving to become a coordinator and his final meeting with the Alabama coach.
“I wasn’t looking to make a one-year stop, you know. I was with James Franklin for six years but opportunities began to present themselves, and I had some tough choices to make, obviously professionally and personally, one of my goals was to be an offensive coordinator. That’s been a lifelong dream of mine,” Gattis said on the podcast. “I think that’s something that the input that I’ve had and the fingerprint that I’ve been able to leave on a lot of programs has allowed me to continue to prepare myself to put me in this position.
“When Coach Harbaugh called, it kinda caught me off guard because I was literally, I had just left a meeting with Nick Saban getting my butt chewed out for about 20 minutes telling him that I was leaving and he’s trying to get me to stay. It did not go over well. If there was any band-aid to the bruise or to what he left on me, it was that phone call. It was exciting to hear his voice and get a chance to talk to him personally.”
If Gattis is to be believed, Harbaugh finally got one over on Saban and stole one of his most coveted assistants after only one season on the job. Gattis would go on to discuss how great it is to work with the Michigan staff and the family atmosphere in Ann Arbor. Whether that’s just something all coaches say after taking a new job or if it’s a shot at Saban’s program is unclear but what does seem very clear is the fact Gattis is at peace with his decision to depart Alabama despite leaving behind arguably the nation’s best receiving corps in Tuscaloosa.
You can check out the podcast for yourself here if you want to listen to Gattis’ comments and come to your own conclusion.