The rumors are everywhere that Saban is going to take the Texas job. Now, I don't believe he is taking the Texas job until there's a press conference that actually announces him as the head coach, but we have moved past "crazy internet rumor" into "actual possibility." When you have the unofficial PR man for the SEC, Paul Finebaum, saying on SportsCenter that Alabama officials are deeply concerned, we can read that as they are flipping the hell out right now.
I'm deeply ambivalent on this. I want Saban to stay at Alabama because I love the LSU-Bama rivalry right now. It's arguably the best rivalry in college football, and part of that is LSU fans' complicated relationship with Saban.* Also, I don't want the rivalry to end with Alabama holding the upper hand. Screw that.
*Outsiders think we hate him. That's not true. I'm deeply thankful for that first national title. And while there are many who hate Saban with a passion of a thousand burning suns, there are just as many people in the LSU fanbase who are furiously typing yet another diatribe against Les Miles because of how he doesn't measure of to the greatness of Saban, the One True Coach.
Even worse, an ascendant Alabama holds Auburn in check. I may hate Bama, but I despise Auburn. I need Saban on that wall, keeping Auburn in their proper place.
Also, from a recruiting standpoint, it's a wash. I do believe Nick Saban is the greatest recruiter in college football history, as he is nearing in on his fifth #1 ranked class in six years. That's just breaking the scale. However, LSU recruits Texas as well, so having the best recruiter in Texas instead of Alabama is just moving the biggest threat to our recruiting efforts from one front to the other. There's virtually no impact on LSU, though. He's the same threat in either job.
On the other hand, the meltdown if Saban left Alabama would break the comedy scale. I have to admit, I would like to see that. So, I'm cool either way whether Saban decides to stay or go. Though I would rather enjoy seeing the people who told us there was no possible way Saban leaves for Texas rationalize how it happened.
What makes this rumor different than the Saban to the Browns rumor or any other such silliness, is that this is the first "Saban leaves Alabama" rumor that has had genuine legs. We've been talking about this for six months or so. That doesn't mean it absolutely is happening, hell, I don't even think the odds are 50/50, but when there is this much smoke, there's a fire somewhere. He's at least doing his patented "play footsies with every suitor" dance that he's got down to an artform.
However, Texas is the first job opening than can positively answer the question that every Bama fan rightfully asks, "Why the hell would he leave?" Here's a short list.
EGO. Nick Saban has a gigantic ego. This doesn't make him special, so do most college football coaches. The idea of being the first coach to win a national title at three different schools has got to be tempting to a guy like him. It would give him a unique legacy that would not be matched any time in the near future.
It would also give him a legitimate claim as the greatest coach of all-time. And let's be honest, no matter what he accomplishes at Alabama, he is always going to be the second best coach in their school's history. The Bear dominated the SEC like no man before or since, and he also played at least an apocryphal role in integration. Not only did the Bear win a bunch of games, he gets a little bit of credit (deserved or not) for helping cure great social ills. That's an untouchable legacy of greatness.
MONEY. Look, Alabama has a lot of money and, more importantly, the will to spend it. There is a shortlist of schools that have more money than Alabama... and Texas is one of them. There's no such thing as unlimited resources, but Texas comes pretty darn close. They have a large and wealthy alumni base and their own TV network. Texas has got some coin to throw around and with a new AD looking to make his mark on the program, they have the will to spend it right now. They are a sailor on shore leave, flush with cash. This is their time to make a splash. This is one of the few times someone can actually outspend Alabama.
BOREDOM. What else does Saban really have left to do at Alabama? He's won three national titles and revitalized the program. He has the thing running like a well-oiled machine right now, as he's bringing in yet another highly touted recruiting class. No program runs itself, but it sure seems like he's gotten Alabama to as close to the point as possible.
Saban is also the kid of coach who has always seemed to enjoy building more than sustaining success. He has sustained success at Alabama, to prove to everyone that he could do that too, but he seems to revel in the challenge of taking a program up the mountaintop. A move to Texas is the kind of thing that could recharge his competitive juices. It's a new challenge, as he seems to have conquered the old ones.
That doesn't mean he's going. There's plenty of good reasons to stay. He does have the Death Star fully operational at Alabama, and you don't walk away right before you destroy Alderaan. That's the fun part. Why build a new Death Star in Austin when you have one right there in Tuscaloosa?
Furthermore, he will never get the kind of total obedience he gets from the media and boosters in Alabama at any other job. He has essentially trained the local press to be his press agents, and they are cowed into only asking questions that he would approve of. The boosters give him plenty of space, and he doesn't have to do a lot of glad-handing. Alabama fans know how to put their gods up on pedestals, almost literally.
At Texas, there is no way he gets the same kind of media compliance. Not only would he be looking at more contentious press conferences, he'd be subject to actively hostile investigative reporters trying to make their mark by looking under every rock. Let's put it like this, the Charles Robinson story would still be getting play in the local press had it happened at Texas, as someone would have picked up that ball and run with it.
He'd also have to deal with a lot more BS. He can pretty much stay in his bubble at Alabama and do nothing but recruit and coach football. At Texas, he's got to put up with a near endless string of boosters wanting a piece of him. Not to mention that demon mistress, the LHN, which Saban probably already despises.
There's plenty of good reasons to stay, not the least of which is to put Auburn back in their place. But this is the first and perhaps only job opening that could tempt Saban into leaving. As funny as it would be if he did leave, I would miss the guy. Saban makes Alabama worth hating. I hope he comes to his senses and stays where he belongs...
.. and promptly loses the next five games to Les Miles.