Neal was just an idiot....
Time to give up on Saban
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
So let me get this straight. Just last week, Alabama was so confident it could lure Nick Saban away from his $5 million-a-year job with the Miami Dolphins after New Year's Eve that it offered its top position to West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez. Now, days after Rodriguez changed his mind/played Bama for more cash, the Tide's sights are set once again on Saban, who just led the Dolphins to a 21-0 mauling of the New England Patriots.
One Alabama backer after another has insisted since Rodriguez's rejection that Saban is back on top of the Tide's wish list. Alabama fans, apparently plugged into Saban's office and his $7.5 million home in Fort Lauderdale, believe the former Michigan State and LSU coach is unhappy with the NFL and the Dolphins and that he's willing to leave almost $15 million on the table in order to return to the SEC.
Turns out, they just might be right -- but only about the unhappy part.
"Nick doesn't ever look happy," said Chris Landry, a Baton Rouge-based NFL scout and analyst for Fox Sports Radio. "He's always so focused and driven."
Saban, who is 15-14 in two seasons at Miami, is still a bit irritated at the Dolphins' doctors, the same ones who told him during the offseason that free agent Drew Brees' injured right shoulder wouldn't heal in time for him to throw a football this fall. Later, the same medical staff gave Saban the green light to trade for quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who suffered a severe knee injury last season while playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Brees signed with New Orleans and has guided the Saints to the verge of the NFC South championship while putting up MVP numbers. Culpepper's knee hampered his play early on, and the Dolphins have since turned to Joey Harrington.
So, no, Saban's not super happy. If he had Brees, he just might be a Super Bowl contender. However, Landry said there's no way Saban is leaving Miami, and Landry should know. The veteran NFL scout worked with Saban in Cleveland, played a key role in LSU's hiring of Saban and now runs his own scouting/consulting business in which he analyzes pro and college personnel for NFL teams. One of his clients, predictably, is the Miami Dolphins, and Landry insists Saban has no intention of walking away from the NFL after just two seasons.
"From a football/organization standpoint, his situation is perfect and he knows it," Landry said. "He's got what he wants. It's a chance of a lifetime. He'll have success. He took a team with six-win personnel last year and won nine games. He's doing a good job in my opinion. They're an old team that he's trying to rebuild. That challenge kind of drives him. There's no question he'll have success in Miami and he'll be given the time he needs to have it."
Landry was surprised Sunday and again on Monday when various media reports kept the Saban-to-Alabama rumors alive. Landry, who is often consulted by NFL and college teams in their coaching evaluations and searches, hasn't heard from Alabama recently, but if Mal Moore were to call, he'd advise him to not wait on Saban.
"I think that would take them out of some other candidates," Landry said. "(Saban to Alabama) isn't happening at all. He's every bit committed to Miami. Alabama's not even on his radar. After the season, he's going to be focused immediately on draft preparation and free agency. I think you can take that to the bank."
Landry said media types are reading too much into Saban's statements about the job. Several analysts have insisted that Saban is leaving the door to Tuscaloosa open with denials of interest that aren't 100 percent emphatic. Those people, Landry said, don't understand Saban.
Saban's a coach's coach, meaning he'll never say a job is a bad one, never insult friends by saying he wouldn't be interested in a position at their alma mater. For example, Landry said, Saban would never take the job at Ole Miss, but if Archie Manning were to call him, Saban would be respectful and flattered. That's happened, Landry said, when former Alabama players have talked to Saban about the Tide vacancy. That doesn't mean he wants Mike Shula's old job.
"He might want to return to college one day," Landry said, "but it wouldn't be to Alabama."
By the way, Landry recommends Wake Forest's Jim Grobe for the Alabama job, pointing out that Grobe took a program with fewer resources than its opponents and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title. He's surprised Alabama appears to be aiming higher.
'There's a minority there that believes there has to be something bigger because they're Alabama," Landry said. "It's a good job, but you have to get the right fit. They have such a high regard for their program that they can't see that the landscape has changed."
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