An unusual occurrance has been taking place for Alabama football fans over the last week or so: They are waking up in the middle of the night, screaming out loud, drenched in sweat. They thought their nightmares had ended years ago. This week, they are back, and the bad dreams of Nick Saban's departure just won't go away. If you live and breath Alabama football, I thought you might like to read the letter I'm sending Nick Saban (well, I'm really not, but just play along). Maybe the Alabama football coach can take 90 seconds after downing his black coffee and two Little Debbies to start his day off by getting my take on what his future should bring.
I hope this letter finds you well. You might remember me- I'm the TV guy who had you in a dinghy a few years back. While I know you have been busy, I'm hoping you take a few minutes from studying the process to get my take on these rumors that have you heading to the NFL to coach the Cleveland Browns. I thought you might like some advice from a man who lives in a split house- my daughter is a Bama fan, my son an Auburn fan. Just telling you what I think from my seat!
While it's only natural to enjoy being wooed for another job, I want to remind you that the grass isn't always greener in a new position. I certainly know that a man has to do what is best for his family- afterall, I can sympathize with the struggles of any man making only $5 million a year. But if you truly look into your management style in both the college and pro settings, I think you will agree with me that you are in the right place.
In six years at the University of Alabama, you have suffered 13 losses, and you will likely win your third national chanpionship in four years come January 7th. In two years with the Miami Dolphins, you had 17 losses and no championships. The reason? The NFL wasn't all about you. You see, in Tuscaloosa, you do it your way with one voice- you tell people to jump and they yell, "Yes sir, how high?". In the NFL? Just too many general managers, team owners and egos.
In Tuscaloosa you can recruit the best by outworking the best. In the NFL? Maybe not. Remember when you wanted Drew Brees to play while coaching the Dolphins and the medical staff would not clear him? You had problems choosing your own NFL free agents due to in-office politics. You once told ESPN, "In the NFL, I always thought my willingness to outwork everyone else would create an advantage, but the rules of parity in the NFL make it difficult to gain that advantage." College football? Now that's the ticket! You can outwork the "Ole Ball Coach who grabs the sticks and heads to the links while you look at game film... You can find ways to skype recruits while playing within the rules.... You can start work on the following year's team only 24 hours after winning a BCS Championship. And you can do it your way, all'ight?
And the carrott you can dangle in front of college kids? The NFL. If they "buy in" to the process, they have a great chance of playing at the next level. What's the carrott you could dangle in front of NFL players? Intimidation would be a non-facter. Players would simply laugh at you and drive their luxury cars back to their mansions.
You are now 61 years old Nick, and you don't look a day over 60. Would I suggest you coach 5 more years and then retire to Lake Burton.You would leave Alabama with five national championships and a statue outside the stadium (whoops- I forgot that has already been erected). You will be a grandfather sitting at the lake, telling the little ones how you did it your way.
And one more thing, Nick: When you meet the media next Tuesday and someone asks you about these NFL rumors, lay off the tantrum- we've all been there-done that. Don't let the media get under your skin. I know talking heads like Ron Jaworski have made statements this week such as "I'm not a Saban man because I don't like liars." Just take it all in stride, and please don't say something like, "OK, I'll say it- I'm not going to be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns." Why not shake it up a bit by looking into the cameras and saying, "Whenever my name is linked to other jobs, it's simply a compliment to the hard work coaches and players have done here over the years. The fact is, I already coach an NFL team- and I feel confident this Bama squad could beat the Cleveland Browns at any time."
Thanks for listening Nick- and leave it to me to remind you that perhaps now is not the time in your career to rock the boat.