Mainly because his agent wants his name out there, because Gruden likes the attention, and because fans from Knoxville to Athens to Columbus to Madison to Austin to Los Angeles want to believe that Chucky would kill to land at their own supa-dupa school.
There’s a pattern to the Grudenmania. A pebble of information turns into an rockslide. Now it’s happening with Nick Saban.
All those fresh rumors about Saban’s wife house-hunting in Texas? Yeah, we’re not buying.
We don’t mean to pick on anyone reporting this stuff, but we’ve come to know the drill. We know that some people push this kind of stuff in order to drive up ratings/pageviews while others push it because they really want to believe it. Either way, there’s an agenda.
BurntOrangeNation.com — the SB Nation site covering Texas — posted this story yesterday afternoon: “Was Nick Saban’s Wife House Shopping In Austin? Reports Say: Yes.” In the story, it’s written that the story of Terry Saban and her daughter-in-law house-hunting in Austin two weeks ago have been “confirmed by ESPN radio.” The site goes on:
“With the backing of major players like ESPN allowing it over the airwaves and the historically accurate Jesus Shuttlesworth detailing her trip, it would be ignorant to treat as hearsay.”
Yes, who would ever label the reporting of a pseudonym-using man on a pay website (InsideTexas.com) as “hearsay?”
Also, there’s just one tiny problem with the whole “ESPN allowing it over the airwaves” thing. The report was backed up by the afternoon radio host on Austin’s ESPN radio station. An ESPN affiliate. There are dozens of ESPN radio affiliates in dozens of towns big and small featuring hundreds of talkshow hosts credible and not. No offense to Alex Loeb — said host on KTXX-FM 104.9 in Austin — but you can bet the brass in Bristol, Connecticut had zero idea what he was saying on his show.
Also, “Shuttlesworth” claimed that Terry Saban was interested in buying a “vacation home” in the Austin area. (Conspiracy theorist: “Right, a vacation home. Dude, he’s coming!”)
Now, the story blew up further when another KTXX-FM employee — on-air personality Erin Hogan – confirmed Loeb’s report and stated that “he has a source inside Travis County’s sheriff’s office who claims to have helped with Mrs. Saban’s security.”
(Conspiracy theorist: “Boom! Gotcha now, Sabans! Dude, he’s coming!”)
Apparently that report led numerous people to call the Travis County sheriff’s office to see if someone really did provide security. But the stick-in-the-mud folks in that office told KXAN-TV in Austin that “they didn’t offer any kind of official security.” The sheriff’s office also tweeted: “Regarding the Saban escort story it is hearsay. There was no deputy escort”
(Conspiracy theorist: “No official escort by a deputy, but that doesn’t mean the sheriff his own self couldn’t have driven with them while off duty! Dude, he’s coming!”)
A few thoughts:
* Would Texas be interested in Saban? Of course. And with the impending retirement of AD DeLoss Dodds the school could force out Mack Brown and offer Alabama’s football coach two jobs — football coach and athletic director. Hey, it’s possible.
* Is it possible that Saban’s agent Jimmy Sexton convinced the coach to take part in a “wife-shops-for-houses-in-Austin” stunt in order to drive up the coach’s value? Yeah, it’s possible…
* But would a man as averse to distractions as Saban take part in such a scheme as his own team angles to win a BCS championship? Not at all likely.
* For that matter, would a police escort in Austin really do anything other than draw attention to Terry Saban’s visit?
* Also, Saban’s wife is a licensed real estate agent who bought property in Baton Rouge, Louisiana just last year. So it’s likely that even if she did travel to Austin, Mrs. Saban was just looking for vacation property or a home for her daughter-in-law who was reportedly with her.
Look, anything’s possible in this here world. Maybe there’s an NCAA issue (like, say, BCS championships thrown into question due to a pair of agent-runner-player monetary transactions). Maybe Saban likes the idea of being coach and AD at Texas (though Bama’s new AD — 72-year-old Bill Battle — would likely step aside for Saban anytime he decides he wants to run an entire athletic department). Maybe the coach just wants more cash (though Alabama’s already made him the highest-paid coach in the country).
But these rumors that just won’t die? Sorry, been there, done that. Perhaps the best example of how this stuff feeds on itself — how A becomes B becomes C in people’s minds — is the story of a Gruden family visit to a Knoxville school. The Grudens were scouting future schools for their kids. Next thing you know their visit to that school was the big story around town, on the street, and in the press.
In reality, someone at the school had written the name “Jon Gruden” on the school’s visitors’ list. Someone else saw what was supposed to be a joke, gasped, grew excited, and told two people. Then they told two people. And they told two messageboards. And they told two radio stations. And pretty soon, Gruden had abso-frickin-lutely been school-scouting in Knoxville.
Only he hadn’t.
Did Tennessee officials speak with Gruden? Yes. There was truth there. But all of the other sightings and “solid sources” cited by anonymous messageboard posters turned out to be bupkes.
Did Texas boosters/regents make an approach toward Saban at one point? Yes. Might they again? Sure.
But all this balderdash about secretive house-hunts proving that the coach really is as good as gone to Texas? Nope. Not buying it.
(Conspiracy theorist: “Those fellas at MrSEC.com are in on the cover-up!”)
UPDATE — Nick Saban himself has been spotted just outside Austin.