Beyond the gruff exterior is a man who is internally tormented. Nick Saban is so good, because he’s so crazy.
Outwardly, he scoffs at guys like Bill Simmons – who recently said that Saban was a coward for leaving the NFL and that Saban was “the guy who plays Madden on rookie level winning the Super Bowl.”
“Come to the NFL, let’s see how good of a coach you are, Nick Saban,” Simmons said on his podcast recently. “When [Saban] plays golf does he play from the pink tees? Come to the NFL, let’s see how good you are.”
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Saban is smart enough to know that this perception is out there. He’s the greatest college football coach in modern history, but he couldn’t hack it when he coached in the pros. All told, Saban wasn’t horrible at the NFL level. He went 9-7 in his first year with the Dolphins in 2005 and 6-10 in his second season, finishing with a 15-17 record. Not good, but not horrible either. When you consider that Saban’s buddy, Bill Belichick, went 13-19 in his first two seasons coaching in the NFL you have to wonder whether or not Saban gave it enough time the first (and maybe last) time around.
Will he try his hand at the pros again? First, you’ll have to ask his agent.
“I didn’t talk to one NFL team last year, they know who to call: Jimmy Sexton has been with me for a long time,” Saban said two weeks ago of his trusted agent. “He calls me and says, ‘Are you interested?’ And I say no and that’s it. That’s as far as anything ever went with any team. It’s certainly flattering that somebody would have interest, but at this station in life, from a family standpoint, from a personal standpoint, we’re excited about the challenges we have in trying to continue to have a successful program at Alabama and we haven’t entertained any other opportunities outside the opportunities we have at Alabama.”
That’s coach-speak for: “I’m listening.”
Sexton himself asked Saban once upon a time about his legacy, and it’s a safe bet the question is raised on an annual basis.
“Before I ever went to Miami, Jimmy told me, ‘You’ve got to make a decision, man. Is your legacy going to be as a college coach or do you want to take the next step and take a challenge?” Saban recalled, according to ESPN.com. “I think he saw after I was in Miami for two years that I was a little frustrated.”
At 65-years-old, Saban is running out of years to jump back to the NFL – a young man’s league. It remains to be seen if that frustration still lingers.
If Saban does leave Alabama for the NFL, there are several good fits for the coach. A look at the most “Saban-ready” open jobs.
Denver Broncos: 15/1 – A ready-made gig, Saban would make the playoffs immediately with last year’s Super Bowl champs.
Los Angeles Rams: 20/1 – LA desperately wants a marquee name to lead their franchise now that they’re out west. There are interesting pieces in place at QB and RB and the defense is legit.
San Diego Chargers: 23/1 – The move to LA is 95 percent done and like the Rams, the LA Chargers will want a big name to market. The Chargers still have some pieces in place and could get to the playoffs quickly under Saban’s watch.
Buffalo Bills: 26/1 – Saban left a cushy SEC job for a chance to get his brains beat in by Belichick twice a year once already. Hard to imagine he’d do that again.
San Francisco 49ers: 40/1 – Saban is too old and cranky to put up with drama in the workplace, and the endless stream of B.S. coming from the York family likely wouldn’t sit well.