The annual Grumors carousel has ground to a halt with the hiring of Jon Gruden in Oakland and, since Nick Saban has won another college football championship, it’s time to think about just what Saban might do for an encore.
Conveniently, there happens to be a plum opening with the New York Giants, a team that Bruce Arians, the former Arizona Cardinals coach, thinks is the only that could pry Saban from ‘Bama, where he has won five championships (a sixth came at LSU). Arians admitted that it wouldn’t surprise him if Saban, 66, were to go to the NFL.
“There’s a job he covets, and it just happens to be open,” he said on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” but he’s got a dynasty right now, [and] another dynamite recruiting class. Why he would do it? I don’t know, but it would not shock me if he did.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me. There’s a job he covets and it just happens to be open… The Giants.” — @BruceArians on Nick Saban returning to the NFL pic.twitter.com/BWcZl8lrNz
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 9, 2018
Saban’s team is set up well for next season and the Giants are a certified mess. But they will have the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft. Besides, Arians says, “they’re the Giants. When we grew up, they were the thing.”
The key word here is “were.” They certainly would like to be again, but the New York Post shot down Arians’s comment, with an unnamed source saying, “Has Nick Saban reached out to the Giants and said, ‘I’d like to talk to you about your job if you’re still looking for a head coach?’ Not to my knowledge.” Another unnamed source was more explicit, telling Newsday, “no way.” The New York Daily News reports that Matt Patricia, the New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator, seems to have the inside track on the Giants’ job. (He also reportedly is the Detroit Lions’ top choice.)
However, the New York Daily News reminds us that two years ago, when the team ended up with Ben McAdoor, “Saban reportedly threw his hat in the ring and the two parties even contacted each other for a day before cutting negotiations off after Saban’s wife reportedly wanted to stay in Alabama. He was also nearly hired as the Giants head coach in 1997 and was discussed as a candidate in 2004.”
Two years ago, Saban was eyeing a $10-million-per-year deal and it reportedly would cost the Giants $26.9 million to buy out Saban’s Alabama contract.
Salary: Jon Gruden just signed a 10-year contract valued at $100 million, which is in the neighborhood of Saban’s $11.1 million deal that runs through 2025 at ‘Bama. At Saban’s age, a 10-year deal seems unlikely.
History: It would be tempting to turn around the Giants and build a dynasty there, but Saban is 12 years older than Gruden. It might be more tempting to stay in Tuscaloosa, where Bear Bryant won six national titles.
Ease: The Alabama team appears loaded for next season and breaking the tie with Bryant would seem to be within fairly easy reach. The Giants are coming off a 3-13 season.
More history: The last time he was in the NFL, his Miami Dolphins went 15-17 during a tumultuous tenure in which he said he wouldn’t be leaving for Alabama — until he did. In 11 seasons with the Tide, he is 132-20. Coaching college players, who are willing to put up with the rigors coaches put them through for a chance at the NFL after a couple of years, is easier than in the pro game. At this point in his life, who needs the hassle? Unless the Giants job is the one he covets.
The itch: If you’re Nick Saban, how badly do you want to show that you can be a very big deal on two platforms? Or is there a sense of satisfaction with what he has accomplished?
The downside: Going to the Giants would mean that Saban would have to actually, you know, work for someone. In Alabama, there’s Nick Saban and everyone else.
Whatever he’s thinking, he wasn’t tipping his hand after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in overtime Monday and he was asked to take stock of how much longer he plans to coach.
“As long as I feel like I can do a good job for the players and the team — from an energy level, from a focus level, from a concentration level, from providing a good staff of people around them to help them have success,” he said. “These are things that I know that I cannot do forever, but they’re certainly things that I have enjoyed and hope I can continue to enjoy in the future.”
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