Former Texas Regent shares the story of school's pursuit of Nick Saban, claims Mack Brown killed the deal
The Southeastern Conference would certainly look different today had Nick Saban left Alabama for the University of Texas following the conclusion of the 2012 college football season. While the rumor mill was churning regarding Saban’s interest in the job back then, one of the behind-the-scenes players in Austin recently shared his recollection of the events that led to Alabama’s coach nearly leaving Tuscaloosa for Austin.
According to former Texas Regent Tom Hicks, also known as owner of the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball and the Dallas Stars of the NHL, Saban was prepared to take the Texas job as the Longhorns were reportedly prepared to offer Alabama’s coach whatever salary demand he had to leave Tuscaloosa in order to replace Mack Brown.
Hicks was a recent guest of the Your Turn with Corby Davidson Podcast and shared his timeline of the events.
“We had a call from his agent… and he said, ‘If Saban was a business guy, he’s what you would call a turnaround artist. He’s not a longterm CEO. He likes to go someplace, fix it, win and go on. He knows he will never catch Bear Bryant’s legacy in Alabama, but he’d like to create his legacy that he won more national championships at more schools than anybody else. He’s already done it at LSU, he’s already done it at Alabama, and he knows he can win a national championship at Texas; he knows he can.’”
Read into that what you will but Jimmy Sexton, Saban’s agent, made it seem like the coach was eager to rebuild another program after taking Alabama to the top of the college football mountaintop — at least, that’s how Hicks recalls it.
According to Hicks, he then took the information to Mack Brown, the current Texas coach at the time, to gauge his interest in stepping down and being replaced by Saban.
“I went to see Mack two days later, we had lunch and I thought at the time Mack was ready to leave. He’d been telling people he was ready to leave. So I said, ‘Mack, I want to tell you about a conversation I had with Jimmy Sexton. If you want to retire, I think you can graciously have Nick Saban come in and take your place and have it kinda be your idea. That might be a nice way for you to end it.’”
“Boy, Mack Brown turned bright red, steam started coming out of his ears he said, ‘That guy is not coming here to win a national championship with my players!’ I said, ‘Mack, it’s good to see you still have passion, I didn’t think you had that passion left. So that’s what started the Nick Saban story.”
Without Brown’s approval on the move, Hicks said Texas could not complete the deal.
“I called the agent back and I told him, ‘If this isn’t Mack’s idea, it isn’t going to happen.'”
Texas then decided to keep Brown on as head coach for the 2013 season, but after leading the Longhorns to an 8-5 record, he was fired. Texas then turned to Charlie Strong to replace Browin. According to Hicks, Texas attempted to inquire about hiring Saban after firing Brown following the 2013 season, but Sexton would not deal with Texas following the leak of their talks the previous year.
“I did [inquire] but he wouldn’t take my calls,” Hicks claims.