Nick Saban Needs To Stay At Alabama


There’s a common saying that reads, “you shouldn’t try to be happier than happy.”

With that in mind, Alabama head coach Nick Saban needs to stay in Tuscaloosa, of course after his agent flirts with some more NFL teams, he denies it and then the Crimson Tide athletic department (and state of Alabama) agrees to give him more money.

Saban is unquestionably one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football.  I’d say he is the greatest ever.  To win four titles in seven years in this climate of parity and competition all over is nothing short of amazing.

Even though he has absolutely nothing left to accomplish in college football, the ship has sailed for him to go to take his talents to the National Football League.

It’s not necessarily an age issue, as Tom Coughlin is interviewing for jobs and he’ll be 70 years young before the start of the 2016 regular season.  Saban is “only” 64.

Even though he has a coaching history in the NFL with stops in Houston and Cleveland before his two-year head coaching stint in Miami, the college game has the Tide head coach too far set in his ways.

And what’s wrong with that?  It obviously works well, better than anyone else ever.

In college.

The autonomy he enjoys over his collegiate program doesn’t exist on the next level, even if some misguided team were to offer him personnel control.  We’ve seen recent examples of college coaches coming to the NFL and failing miserably in terms of their relationships with the players.

Unlike college football, the men these coaches are directing make a lot of money, and a good percentage earn more than the coaches.  This affords them a certain amount of respect that most college coaches can’t relate to, and thus the players can’t relate to them.

“I’ve always said he’s a great coach and I’ve never refuted that,” former Michigan State and Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress said about his former college coach on Fox Sports 1.  “I have respect for him as a ball coach, but some of the personal issues I had with him and dealt with him on a personal level I didn’t like as an 18-year old.”

The recruiting game in the NFL has some similarities to college, just with a lot more money involved in free agency.  Still, you have to be consistent in your approach, even after you’ve “made the sale.”

“He came into my home and sugared me a little bit and then when I went to Michigan State it was something completely different,” Burress said.

It’s understandable if Saban feels he might need to scratch the itch of winning at the highest level, but he’s not the only decision maker in the process.  His wife Terry has made it publicly clear that she likes the small-town living of Tuscaloosa.  They have more money than they could likely ever spend and if they need any more, the University of Alabama has an open checkbook.

Perhaps the biggest issue over the jump to the next level would be finding the perfect, if not just the right opportunity.

That doesn’t seem to be out there right now.  The New York Giants are the most stable franchise that’s looking for a head coach.  They also have a quarterback and a great wide receiver, but a roster that’s in need of major repair.  Saban doesn’t have time to go through a rebuild.

The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns have dysfunctional front offices and ownership, and no answers at quarterback.

The Tennessee Titans have some questions about their ownership and they have a non-pro style quarterback.  Their roster is so bad that in the last two years they’ve combined for a 5-27 record.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be the best job available, but there are plenty of unknowns.  Will Jameis Winston continue the success he had in his rookie season when the league gets more film on him?  The Bucs defense is also set up to run a 4-3, and they don’t have 3-4 personnel which Saban runs.  There is also a pretty good young general manager already in place in Jason Licht, and the five-time national championship winning head coach will likely want some say in personnel.

Assuming Saban did like one of these jobs enough to actually consider it and not use it for leveraging the good people of Alabama for a few more pennies (millions), he would have to deal with NFL media, which is completely different than college.  Saban seemingly has at least one blowup every year over being questioned about his team, character of his players or strategy.

To put it simply, Saban controls the media at Alabama and often bullies them like many college coaches.  He can’t do that on the next level and the energy level it takes to ingratiate himself would get in the way of what he cares about, coaching.

Saban is celebrated in Alabama and there is a statue of him on campus.  He is the highest paid head coach in the country and will continue to be as long as he wants to stay there.  He’s respected, revered and labeled a genius.  His recruiting has more to do with selection than convincing, and by all accounts his wife is overjoyed with their situation.

Don’t try to be happier than happy, Nick.  Just stay in school.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.