Last January, Nick Saban’s agent talked by phone with a pair of regents from the University of Texas. The conversation centered on Saban’s interest in trading the Alabama Crimson Tide for the Texas Longhorns.
Through an open records request, the Associated Press has gotten its hands on an email that former Texas regent Tom Hicks sent to his brother, regent Steve Hicks, about that call. His email stated:
“(Saban’s agent Jimmy) Sexton confirmed that UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for, and that his success there created special pressure for him.”
Start your timers. It won’t be long before Saban’s top is blown due to reporters peppering him with questions about Texas and the “special pressure” he feels at Bama. For a man who hates distractions this — and rumors that his wife visited Austin, Texas to look at vacation property in recent weeks — will be a major headache.
Having said that, we at MrSEC.com still don’t buy that Saban would leave Alabama for Texas. Not at all. Not for a second. And we’re more than willing to throw out mega-whoopsies if we’re wrong.
First, no agent on the planet does a better job of using outside interest for leverage than Sexton. It would only behoove Sexton — and Saban’s wallet — to use the uber-rich Longhorns for leverage with Alabama (where he makes more than $5 million per year already). And remember, this call took place in January. By April, Saban’s staff had been given a 15% hike in pay. Hmmm.
“Would possibly consider?”
Yeah, that’s a real guarantee. Even if Sexton reached out to Texas — and that appears to be the case (see the link up top) — it’s still likely that it was Sexton’s usual ploy of whipping up interest in order to re-open contract talks.
Second, the 62-year-old Saban has said many a time that he’s too old to move again. He said as much in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired last Sunday. In the interview he also said that he regretted his “I will not be the Alabama coach” remark before leaving the Miami Dolphins because it hurt his integrity. Would he be willing to go down that road again? (Yeah, OK, on that one, we’ll say perhaps.)
Finally, if Sexton or Saban believe he could alleviate the “special pressure” his victories have created at Alabama by taking on the role of savior at Texas they’re both nuts. Want special pressure? Head to Texas.
And would Saban want to work for guys who aren’t smart enough to keep their and his business out of emails?
Speaking of the Horns, Mack Brown has recovered nicely from a shaky start to the season. Texas whipped its biggest rival Oklahoma and has darted out to a 5-0 record in the Big 12. At 6-2 overall, Brown can still get his squad into a BCS bowl, though an end-of-the-season game with Baylor looms large.
Now, it’s possible that Brown could win the Big 12, reach a BCS bowl and then ride off into the sunset a winner. But we’re still not sold on Saban making the jump from Alabama to Texas even if Brown does decide to walk away (perhaps with a little push and a parachute made of cash).
Texas has just hired Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson to replace the retiring DeLoss Dodds. Patterson came to college sports from outside traditional channels, having run a sports consulting firm and having served as an NFL and NBA executive. Does Saban have ties to Patterson and would that even matter? Would Patterson be willing to yield as much control to Saban as Alabama has?
The last time this came up, we suggested that perhaps Texas might offer Saban its head coaching job and its AD position, but that’s now off the list of possibilities. Regardless, Alabama’s Bill Battle could step down and give Saban the Tide’s reins if he wants to move in such direction at some point.
Sexton reaching out to Texas, “special pressures,” emails between regents. Sorry, but we still feel that the only thing that could drive Saban from Tuscaloosa would be NCAA hardships. If a recent Yahoo! Sports report leads to trouble for the Tide, get back to us. Then maybe there will be some fire to all the smoke.
Until then, our view is unchanged. Saban won’t leave Alabama for Texas. Such a move wouldn’t make much sense.