Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Eerily Familiar

I'm not going to be the Alabama coach. ~ Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban, 76 wins and 3 BCS championships ago

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  Well, no, don't stop me because you have heard this one before.  Not long ago, speculation began making the sports news circles that Texas was interested in Nick Saban, current Alabama savior-in-residence, as head coach.

Back in 2006, the University of Alabama was suffering.  The late Mal Moore, then athletic director, was in desperate need of finding a decent coach.  As an aside, Mr. Moore is remembered with great fondness by Alabama fans.  From all reports he was a good human being, but history would indicate he wasn't the best judge of coaches.  He hired Dennis Franchione who skipped out to Texas A&M after a couple of seasons.  He followed this up with Mike Price, who never actually signed a contract, because he was fired for some extracurricular partying.  In desperation he chose Mike Shula.  Mr. Shula, in his second year, had the worst 10-win season in the history of football.  Everyone but Mr. Moore recognized what a fluke it was, but Mr. Moore decided it was worth a significant contract extension.  Mr. Shula didn't finish the next season, as I recall.

Then, Mr. Moore set his sights on Nick Saban.  Coach Saban was attempting to coach the Miami Dolphins.  Like many successful college coaches, the coach was not well-suited to the vagaries of dealing with pro players, and the Dolphins mediocre record reflected it.  Nevertheless, Coach Saban was insistent that he was not, no way, absolutely uh-uh, coming to Alabama.

The fun really started then.  With Saban's agent still working Mr. Moore hard, Mr. Moore decided to take Coach Saban at his word and tried to sign Rich Rodriguez, then at West Virginia.  Rodriguez, I believe, never had any intention of coming to Tuscaloosa (his wife reportedly was dead set against coming to Alabama) and simply used the offer as a bargaining chip.  So while Alabama was announcing that Rodriguez was flying to Alabama to accept the job, the coach was sitting in his office with the WVU AD and the governor swapping dirty stories or something.

Of course, we know what finally happened, Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton finally got Mr. Moore's attention and told him to just be patient.  The rest as they say is history.

So, what's going on now?

Well, here's Coach Saban going on about how he's too old, how he's planning to finish his career with the Crimson Tide, and on and on.  "I'm totally committed to the University of Alabama," the coach said.  Heck, the only thing he hasn't said is that he is not going to be the coach at Texas.

Mr. Sexton, however, has told people at Texas that Texas is the only school Coach Saban would leave Alabama for and that his success has put him under "special pressure," whatever that is.

Based on the history above, I'm more inclined to believe Mr. Sexton's actions than Coach Saban words.

Now, should the coach decided that deep in the heart of Texas there is more opportunity (and money) than in Tuscaloosa, he certainly wouldn't be the first coach to jump ship.  In fact, obviously, it wouldn't even be HIS first time at jumping ship.  At least he's never done it before the end of a season (like Lou Holtz, Bobby Petrino, and Pete Carroll, among others). 

Of course, should he leave, Alabama fans will be crushed, but they'll get over it.  This time, at least, the late Mal Moore won't be making the hiring decision.

You take your silver linings wherever you can find them.

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