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Saban again denies NFL interest, says ‘this is where I belong’

University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Saban stands next to Coaches' Trophy after team beat Notre Dame in NCAA college football 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game in Fort Lauderdale AP

Wherever there’s a football dynasty being built, there’s an architect behind its construction.  And, in the case of the Alabama dynasty — and make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is — Nick Saban‘s fingerprints are all over the Tide.

The Tide as a team and Saban as a head coach are the standard-bearers in today’s game, and the empirical data is irrefutable.  Two straight BCS titles — the only team to accomplish that — and three in four years, with a shot at three straight and four in five with a plethora of talent returning in 2013.  Of the last eight BCS championships, a Saban-coached team has won four of them, leaving the 61-year-old coach just two titles behind the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most ever.

In the background of the building and maintaining of a football juggernaut, though, is the constant hum of NFL noise.

It was there in the run-up to the BCS championship game, which both Saban and his wife attempted to stamp out to no avail.  It was there in the postgame following the throttling of Notre Dame as well.  And, once again, Saban attempted tamp out whatever embers of a move to the NFL may still be smoldering.

At a celebratory press conference Tuesday morning, Saban was again asked about what if any future he has in the professional ranks.

“How many times do you think I’ve been asked this question?” Saban said according to the Birmingham News. “How many times do you think I’ve been asked to put it to rest? And I’ve put it to rest and you continue to (ask) it. …

“I kind of learned through that experience [with the Miami Dolphins] that maybe this is where I belong. I’m really happy and at peace with all of that. No matter how many times I say that, you all don’t believe it. I don’t know why I keep talking about it.”

Of course, Saban knows exactly why people continue to talk about the NFL even as he continually denies interest in a return.  Simply put, Saban will never completely live down his strident “I’m not going to be the Alabama head coach” line two weeks before he was the Alabama head coach.

That’s not on the media, that’s on Saban for publicly painting himself into that corner back in December of 2006.

What is on the media, though, is clinging to the notion that, because he went 15-17 during his two years with the Dolphins, Saban has some unfinished business as far as the NFL is concerned.  That he simply couldn’t stand the lone stain on his otherwise sterling coaching résumé and would need to return to right that wrong.

Saban has steadfastly denied that’s the case, and laid out in perhaps the clearest terms yet exactly why he prefers college over the professional ranks.

“Somewhere along the lines you learn a lot from the experiences of what you’ve done in the past,” he said. “I came to the Miami Dolphins eight years ago for the best owner, the best person I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for. In the two years I was here, I had a very, very difficult time thinking I would impact the organization the way I wanted to and the way I was able to in college. It was very difficult for me.

“There’s a lot of parity in the NFL, there’s a lot of rules in the NFL. People say you can draft the players you want to draft. You draft the player that’s there when you pick. Might not be the player you need, might not be the player you want. You’ve got salary cap issues. We had them here. You’ve got to have a quarterback. We had a chance to get one here, sort of messed it up.”

And therein lies the reason why there’s (almost) no chance that you will ever see Saban, especially as the years tick off the calendar, on an NFL sideline in anything but a spectating role.  Certainly there will be suitors from that level who will inquire about Saban’s availability — the Cleveland Browns will make a run at him in the coming days, if they haven’t already — but they can expect the same answer myriad others have received over the past few seasons.

No thanks. And Roll Tide…

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20 Responses to “Saban again denies NFL interest, says ‘this is where I belong’”
  1. strauhal says: Jan 8, 2013 2:07 PM

    Totally makes sense. The question is – is he going to coach in the nfl?

    Just kidding. Wait – is he going to coach in the nfl now?

    No. How about now?

  2. xpensivewinos says: Jan 8, 2013 2:17 PM

    At the end of the day, he can go to the NFL and be one of the zillions of guys who coached in the NFL. He will never be a Vince Lombardi, Don Shula or Paul Brown.

    BUT, he can stay where he is, build on what he’s already accomplished and possibly retire as the greatest coach in the history of college football.

    Uhhhhhh, that seems like a better legacy, no?

  3. johnclaytonsponytail says: Jan 8, 2013 2:41 PM

    Just imagine he could still be in the pros if he wouldve gotten Brees. Thank you Nick for being wrong on that.

  4. ndrick731 says: Jan 8, 2013 3:02 PM

    He’s right he needs to stay at Alabama. He can’t win in the pros because he doesn’t have the advantage of having a bunch of people as dumb as Bullwinkle the moose playing for his team. People that don’t belong in college. He has to play by the rules in the pros. But he will be going there eventually when all the cheating he has done is uncovered.

  5. idolized1 says: Jan 8, 2013 3:24 PM

    @ndrick731

    Get over yourself.

    I’d be bitter too if my team laid an egg on a national stage, but to insinuate that Alabama football players are dumb as “Bullwinkle” and don’t belong in college is just ignorant. And if they are so dumb, how come they were more disciplined in last nights game?

    This is why I can’t stand Notre Dame fans – Holier than thou, do-no-wrong, our-stuff-is-always-better-than-yours attitude. Except it’s not.

    Go wear your little “Catholics vs Cousins” and “Golden Domers vs Mobile Homers” shirts out and about and keep that class driven racism alive and well in South Bend.

    Fans like you make me ashamed to be Catholic.

  6. tide4life says: Jan 8, 2013 3:54 PM

    Hope you ND types didn’t pay too much for those classy t-shirts . . . .

  7. imaduffer says: Jan 8, 2013 4:01 PM

    It is much easier to coach against Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern then it is to coach in the NFL.

  8. normtide says: Jan 8, 2013 5:03 PM

    Plain and simple, Saban’s style doesn’t work in the pro’s. At Alabama, he can suspend any player that don’t buy in to his system. In college, the coach can lay out the mind set for his entire team. I also believe he likes being a teacher, molding young men. His players love him.

  9. gatorprof says: Jan 8, 2013 5:05 PM

    Saban is an elite college coach who realizes that he is fortunate to be able to land an elite position again after leaving LSU for fools gold in the NFL. Spurrier also did this, but didn’t land an elite job. Saban realizes that if he chases fools gold again, he has zero shot of ever getting a job as good as Bama’s again.

    Check that…the U needs to be rebuilt;)

    Saban has the chance to be the best college coach of all time, period. This doesn’t make me happy as a Gator fan, but I know that if the Gators win an SEC title or a national title, they will have done it against the best talent in college football. This is what drives the SEC pride….iron sharpens iron.

  10. louhudson23 says: Jan 8, 2013 5:37 PM

    The idea that these Alabama teams are simply more talented is ridiculous. In each of their Championships,they have displayed discipline,effort and heart. All the product of working very hard and believing and caring for one another. The fact that these young men come to believe in themselves and put forth this level of effort comes from Nick Saban. All the talent in the world does not a winner make. The fact that he can attract talent that will work and play together is a formidable combination. An awful lot of very talented players and teams have been sitting home watching these NC games over the last 4 years.One of them one year was Alabama. We have seen clinical game plans performed with surgical precision these last two years. Belittle it and you miss the beauty of seeing it….

  11. Deb says: Jan 8, 2013 7:02 PM

    At some point, many (maybe not most, but many) people grow up and figure out who they are, what they want, and where they belong. It sounds as though Nick Saban has done that. I love the college game. And I love the pro game. Maybe I love the pro game just a little bit more. But that doesn’t mean I think coaching at that level is a step up from coaching Division IA. They’re different jobs and require different skillsets.

    When Lombardi crosses my mind, I think of him as an iconic figure. But I certainly don’t think his light shines any brighter than Bear Bryant’s. Neither of them is any greater than the other in my mind. They both reached the pinnacle of their profession. Saban’s too old to have a Lombardi-like impact on pro ball. But he could leave a Bear-like imprint on the college game and on the lives of his players. That’s not lost on him.

  12. bamasleeper13 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:00 PM

    Well said Deb, as usual! All I can add is ROLL TIDE!

  13. harbourimages says: Jan 8, 2013 9:32 PM

    As a Michigan alum, I’m just really happy Saban isn’t still at Michigan State!!! I’m also amazed and totally impressed by a coach who can win National Championships at TWO different universities! Clearly his coaching methods work VERY well in college. It’s scary to think the Tide has so many players coming back for next year, AND they have the best coach in the game to coach them again…. Geesh!

  14. tiger7575 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:58 PM

    If Nick really wants to do something productive and prove that he is a great coach, not just a recruiter, he should ask the great men of West Point if they would allow him to come rebuild the football program.

  15. Deb says: Jan 8, 2013 10:27 PM

    ROFL … Nick doesn’t have anything else to prove. But it’s always fun when an LSU fan suggests he leave Alabama.

  16. mazblast says: Jan 9, 2013 12:18 AM

    Well said, Deb and idolized1.

    The attitude of supporters of Notre Dame and a lot of other Catholic schools really appalls me. Imagine what they could accomplish if they put half the energy into improvement of their own that they put into putting others down, particularly public schools, all the while ignoring the rot and filth within their own institutions.

    For the record, I’m a grad of a Catholic university–and while I’m no fan of U of A, I took particular pleasure in seeing Alabama hand Invincible Notre Dame and that pious hypocrite Brian Kelly as big an a**-whuppin’ as they’ve taken in years.

  17. suprmous says: Jan 9, 2013 12:30 AM

    How many times did he deny bout leavin LSU, Miami, yadda yadda yadda? History tends to repeat itself and he’s not above being part of History.

  18. Deb says: Jan 9, 2013 2:12 PM

    suprmous, I honestly don’t know what he said regarding LSU. He wasn’t on my radar then. But here’s what happened in Miami:

    According to a member of our Board of Trustees, Alabama approached Saban’s agent, who told Nick they were interested. Miami’s season was still in progress, and he told the agent to tell them he couldn’t talk to them until the season was over. He said he’d understand if they couldn’t wait.

    He was asked at every press conference–which the NFL requires coaches to hold–about Alabama. He said each time that he would only talk about Miami. When they kept hounding him, he finally, said he would not go to Alabama. No, I don’t think he should have said that. I think he should have walked away from the podium when they wouldn’t shut up about Alabama. But he didn’t have a job at Alabama then.

    After the Dolphins’ season ended a couple of weeks later, he met with Alabama and accepted the position. The Dolphins’ owner said he was totally cool with the way Nick handled things and he understood why Nick wanted to leave because of his family situation.

    If Nick leaves Bama, I wish him well. It’s a job, not a prison. I’ll always be grateful for the great job he did while he’s been there. I really can’t see what the problem is. The folks at Oklahoma State say Les Miles told their players he wasn’t leaving right up until he took off for LSU. Coaches leave their jobs all the time. NO ONE tells a current employer he’s leaving until he’s ready to give notice. That would be stupid.

  19. cranespy says: Jan 11, 2013 4:21 AM

    He leaves Bama for one job and one job only……..heir apparent to Bill Belecheck @ New England.

  20. Deb says: Jan 11, 2013 1:37 PM

    @cranespy …

    Bill Belichick is 60.

    Nick Saban is 61.

    I don’t think so.

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