Nick Saban’s Situation: The Implications

University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban says he isn’t interested in the University of Texas coaching job – saying he’s “too damn old to start all over some place else.” Still, the report that Saban’s agent discussed the position with a Longhorn regent back in January has sent shockwaves…

University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban says he isn’t interested in the University of Texas coaching job – saying he’s “too damn old to start all over some place else.”

Still, the report that Saban’s agent discussed the position with a Longhorn regent back in January has sent shockwaves across the college football landscape – including Clemson, S.C.

First, the report: According to the Associated Press, Saban’s agent Jimmy Sexton had a phone conversation on January 7 with Texas regent Wallace Hall and former regent Tom Hicks, who helped lure current Texas coach Mack Brown away from North Carolina in 1997.

Two days after the call, Hicks met with Brown and asked him if he was ready to retire – ostensibly to open the position for Saban. Brown said “No” – and the conversation ended.

After winning the national championship in 2005 – and finishing No. 2 in the nation in 2009 (losing the national title to Saban’s Alabama squad) – the Longhorns’ on-field fortunes have declined in recent years. Brown has gone 22-16 over the past three seasons – and his current team is off to a disappointing 1-2 start.

Brown is paid $5.1 million a year and is on contract for the next seven seasons. The 62-year-old says he’s coaching until his contract ends, too. Saban – who is paid $5.6 million a year at Alabama – is also signed through 2020.

Saban is downplaying the speculation.

“Nothing went on that I know of,” Saban said of the discussions between his agent and Texas. “I don’t know about any of this stuff. I haven’t talked to anybody about that particular situation. They have a coach there.”

Hmmmm … those are some pretty qualified statements if you ask us.

Why would Saban leave Alabama?

Well, Texas is one of the largest colleges in America – and has the nation’s richest athletics department. According to the latest available NCAA figures, Texas athletics raked in a whopping $150 million in 2010-11 – outdistancing second-place Ohio State by nearly $20 million. The Longhorns also have their own television network – launched in 2011 as a partnership with ESPN.

And in addition to being able to pay Saban whatever he wanted, they have something else he covets – a rebuilding opportunity.

In 2000, Saban took over a struggling LSU program and within four years the Tigers were national champions. In 2007, he took a down-in-the-dumps Alabama team to its first national title in nearly two decades. Saban has gone on to win two additional titles in Tuscaloosa – in 2011 and 2012 – and his current team is the odds-on favorite to make it a three-peat.

Bottom line? If Saban wins a third straight national title – and Texas continues to struggle – this could happen.

Now: What does all of this speculation mean for fans of Clemson University (another team with 2013 national championship aspirations)?

Well, if Saban were to leave Alabama for Texas sources tell FITS that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney would be on the shortlist to replace him. In fact depending on how Swinney finishes the current season, he could actually be the favorite for this position. After a 19-15 start in his first two-and-a-half years at Clemson, Swinney has posted a 24-6 record in his last thirty games (including a pair of upsets over SEC powerhouses LSU and Georgia).

swinney fan

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

The only team he hasn’t been able to solve? Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, who have won four in a row over Swinney’s Tigers.

Now … if Swinney were to leave Clemson (for Alabama or anywhere else), assistant coordinator Chad Morris would obviously become the Tigers’ next head coach, right?

Not necessarily. Nebraska – another legendary program which has seen its stock slide in recent years – is reportedly eyeing Morris for its head coaching job in the event Bo Pelini continues to struggle.

That means the Tigers could conceivably be without their head coach and their offensive coordinator heading into 2014.

Swinney’s contract at Clemson runs through 2017. Morris – the highest paid assistant coach in America at $1.3 million – is also signed through 2017. There is no buyout clause in Morris’ contract in the event he leaves to become a head coach elsewhere, however Swinney would have to pay Clemson $400,000 for every year remaining on his contract if he took another head coaching job.

Swinney was a wide receiver at Alabama from 1990-92, a graduate assistant from 1993-95 and the team’s wide receivers and tight ends’ coach from 1996-2001.

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Trevor Bauknight September 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm

One thing I’ve noticed after a nice string of quality wins over SEC competition is that the chorus singing about what a shitty coach Dabo is has gone quiet. Now he’s the frontrunner to take over college football’s premier program?


Clemson fans love Dabo for the same reasons they hated Ken Hatfield and Tommy Bowden…he cares about Clemson, and they didn’t. They didn’t seem upset by losing, and they didn’t seem particularly excited about winning. Dabo may leave Clemson, but one thing I can count on is that he’s a Clemson man while he’s here.

You think the Old Ball Coach is a Carolina man?

Pickens PD September 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

He seems to be a good coach but he is a C.U.N.T. There, no more quiet.

TontoBubbaGoldstein September 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Damn good post, Trevor>

Really? September 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Welcome back, TB. Where have you been? Begging the Item for a job again?

Trevor Bauknight September 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Look, I don’t know, or care, who you are. The fact that you know I worked as a sports writer for the local daily four years ago is not a difficult one to discover. But, congratulations, just the same. You sussed it out. I’m exposed as a former writer for a daily with a circulation under 30,000.

I’m sure you must be very proud. Anonymous assholes in the FITSNEWS comments usually are.

Really? September 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

You cared enough to respond . . . and to think that anyone cared what you had to say from the beginning.

Carpe Jugulum September 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Anyone who takes this article seriously should not be allowed to handle anything thing sharper than a crayon. Some people not only build castles in the air, but manage to live in them as well. At best, this is a delusional fantasy.

Frank Howard September 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Whoa! That woke me up!

The irony is great to hear a “Shamecock” speculating that our boy Dabo, after being too green and not good enough for Clemson to be speculated about as Bama’s next coach.

That’s almost as ironic as those who thought the same of Danny when he replaced Charley Pell.

I think you got it right, Trevor.

Now, if you don’t mind I’m going back to my permanent suite behind the South Stands.

Trevor Bauknight September 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Always nice to hear from a Legend. You probably remember my great uncle Sam Jones that brought the Rock back from California… :-)

Pason Juhlasky September 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Dabo is the greatest coach ever at Clemson. I hope we’d sell the farm to keep him here! Whoever disagrees can kiss my ass. PASADENA HERE WE COME!!!!!

Bee September 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Southern Cal fires Lane Kiffin and hires Charlie Strong.
Texas fires Mac Brown and hires Dabo Swinney.
Nebraska fires Bo Pelini and hires Chad Morris.

Norma Scok September 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

And Steve Spurrier retires.

uh oh September 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Now that would be nice. Such a baby he is.

cocks November 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

he is a coaching hall of famer, not a glorified cheerleader highschool coach. you want daboo you got him scrubb.

Dr_Tesla September 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I think Bama would go after a bigger name coach than Dabo, people are making the fact he played for Bama and then worked there a bigger deal than it is.

Dabo has been at Clemson as long if not longer than his Alabama days, and Clemson is where he got his break. Seems like he would see himself as a Clemson man at this point.
Dabo knows if he goes to Bama the expectations are going to be a lot higher than at Clemson after Bama has won several titles.

uh oh September 23, 2013 at 10:18 pm

While I am sure he loves Clemson… once a Bama man always a Bama man!

Libtard September 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm

No speculation on the H.B.C going to Bama? He was casually offered the job in 2006????

uh oh September 23, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Make no mistake. IF HBC was offered a job at Bama he would have taken it. Dream on!

Norma Scok September 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm

You can google “Saban to Texas” and find this rumor swirling since early 2012 and before. Just like Fit’s “proof” with nikki Haley…Its all crap.

TontoBubbaGoldstein September 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

If Saban leaves ‘Bama, expect the NCAA to announce they’ve been poking around Tuscaloosa. That’s the only reason he would leave.

‘Bama will match any offer Saban gets and TBG fully expects him to stay there until he retires or ‘Bama “Bobby Bowdens” him.

Jimmy Davis September 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm

So, have you guys finally quit riding past Danny Ford’s house and daydreaming?

Neocon September 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Slow day I guess

Jerry Stevens September 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

“….sources tell FITS that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney would be on the shortlist to replace him.”

Wow! Really? “Sources”? That’s reliable for sure.

ELCID September 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

Saban was lieing about leaving Miami, the day before he left.
Saban is just a money hungry A-hole, with no loyalty to any program.
Thus, Texas he’s going to be yours, as his style fits right into Texas’ money hungry belief systems.

Norma Scok September 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Why should he be “loyal”? How loyal would Bama be to him if he went 0-12?

ELCID September 24, 2013 at 9:20 am

It’s all about the money.
The only losers here are the players and the schools.
Most of which lose money on their football teams.

uh oh September 23, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Jealous much? Let me guess SCAR fan?

ELCID September 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

Dummy. Does ElCID mean anything to you.

Wake up! I’m definitely not a SCAR fan!


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