Saban has been a bargain for Alabama

 

When Nick Saban signed his unprecedented eight-year, $32 million contract to be the head coach at Alabama, I told some friends that there would come a day when that deal would look like a bargain.

That day, as it turns out, is today.

Saban just signed a three-year contract extension which, if he stays for its entirety, will keep him in Tuscaloosa through the 2017 season. That’s nine more years.

The contract extension should have been longer. In fact, the school should have offered him a lifetime deal.

I’m serious.

Here’s why: When Alabama was struggling to a 6-7 (2-6 SEC) finish in Mike Shula’s final season (2006), some of my Crimson Tide friends were simply dumbfounded. They simply did not understand why a school with Alabama’s tradition and resources, which are considerable, should be in this position.

And they had a point. It is tough to compete for the SEC championship every season because the league is so good and, with the 85-scholarship limit, programs are going to have some ups and downs from time to time.

But Alabama should never be BAD in the sport of football.

The reality is that as long as Nick Saban is the head coach, Alabama will never be bad. The Crimson Tide may not be at the top of the SEC West every single season, but this team will never embarrass its fans for not being competitive. And you can’t say that about a lot of football programs.

Yeah, Saban can be a bit of a control freak. He gets annoyed by the media’s obsession with minutiae which, of course, simply reflects the interest of the fan base. If you want to talk X’s and O’s and he has the time, Saban will talk all day. He loves to talk about football. It’s the warm and fuzzy stuff that he has no time for.

But, quite candidly, you have to be a control freak if you’re going to be the head coach at Alabama. Because, as I’ve said many times, Alabama’s greatest strength as a football program is also its greatest weakness:

The fans care so much.

For 25 years Alabama’s football spoke with only one voice and that was the familiar growl of Paul “Bear” Bryant (1958-82). Even when Alabama wasn’t winning, and that wasn’t often under Coach Bryant, there was no dissention because there was never any doubt about who was in charge.

It has taken Alabama 25 years since his death in 1983 to find another coach strong enough to hold the various factions of the Crimson Tide family together and keep everybody on task. Gene Stallings (1990-96) did it for a while, winning 70 games in even seasons.  But even he had to fight to exert control over the program and all of its moving parts.

As Saban prepares to bring Alabama to Atlanta to play Virginia Tech in Saturday’s Chick-fil-A College Kickoff, he is in TOTAL control of the Crimson Tide football program and virtually anything that comes into contact with it. Let’s assess what has happened since he arrived in Tuscaloosa in January of 2007:

**–Alabama has won the SEC’s West division and has played in the conference championship game.

**–Alabama started the 2008 season 12-0 and rose to the nation’s No. 1 ranking. Last December Alabama was one quarter away from playing for the national championship.

**–Alabama, despite losing its starting quarterback and three starters on the offensive line, is picked to win the SEC West and is in just about everybody’s preseason Top 10.

**–For the second year Saban has agreed to play in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff, which is giving the program day-long national TV exposure and making further inroads to recruiting in the state of Georgia (much to the chagrin of the programs at Georgia and Georgia Tech).

**–An Auburn program that had beaten Alabama six straight times now has a new head coach and an uncertain future. Saban and his staff are pretty much in control of the state when it comes to recruiting.

And all that has happened in just two seasons.

The point is, Saban was hired at Alabama to accomplish two major tasks: To unite a fan base and to make the Crimson Tide relevant again on the national stage. Logically, a job like that should take several years. Saban did it in year No. 2.

Like him or not, you have to admit the man can coach. And if you pull for another SEC school, you have to admit that as long as Saban is in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will never be bad and most of the time will be very, very good.

That’s why Alabama officials have approved an $80 million expansion that will bring seating at Bryant-Denny Stadium from 92,138 to over 101,000, starting with the 2010 season. Is there any doubt that those seats, which include 36 luxury skyboxes, are going to be sold faster than you can say “Roll Tide?”

They will generate untold millions. That’s why if you’re a Crimson Tide fan, you better give this guy whatever he wants. He has been a bargain for your school.

 

 

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149 comments Add your comment

nuetral observer

September 1st, 2009
8:12 am

H-Back

September 1st, 2009
8:19 am

How old is Coach Saban now?

VolsnGoBlue

September 1st, 2009
8:20 am

only a hater can say anything negative about that mans passion, recruiting skills, and football coaching ability. As you can see I’m a vols fan (not tide) but I really respect saban

cffreak

September 1st, 2009
8:23 am

He’ll be 1-2 in the Iron Bowl after November 27th. Most overhyped coach in history.

Morning News And Notes | MrSEC.com

September 1st, 2009
8:23 am

[...] Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN has put out his “2009 Herbie Awards,” a list of superlatives that includes a number of SEC players and teams.The Sporting News lists four quarterbacks who might lose their starting jobs with bad Week One performances.  Stephen Garcia and Chris Todd made the list.  Eventually, sure, they could lose their jobs.  But after Week One?When you eyed Vandy’s quarterback competition, two things came to mind: Larry Smith was praised last year as the future “answer” for the Commodores and Mackenzi Adams has always performed better off the bench.  So it’s no surprise that Smith has been named Vandy’s starter.Mississippi State star shot-blocker Jarvis Varnado was taken to the hospital yesterday after falling ill during practice.  “He’s fine,” Rick Stansbury said.  “We expect him back at full speed very shortly.  We’re just being very cautious.”Dan Mullen isn’t saying whether tailback Anthony Dixon will be suspended from Saturday’s opener or not.  Dixon was arrested on DUI charges just weeks ago.The NCAA has yet to rule in the case of Julio Jones and Mark Ingram’s spring fishing trip.  If no word comes before Saturday, can Alabama risk playing them against Virginia Tech?  Or are they looking at another vacated win (possibly) if they do?The Sporting News Today covers a number of SEC-related nuggets on their main page this morning:  Mark May predicts “Florida will put up 50 on Tennessee,” Charles Davis takes Georgia over Oklahoma State in an upset, and three analysts (out of seven) pick Ole Miss as the team “most likely to disappoint.”  (This a free service, so even if you can’t read this story via the link provided, you should be able to sign up for free.)Chris Low of ESPN.com ranks the SEC’s best special teams units (from Florida to Mississippi State) right here… and he ranks the league’s “most dangerous home run threats” (from Jeffery Demps to Trindon Holliday) right here.Kentucky basketballer Darius Miller says the Wildcats’ goal “is to win the national championship, and I definitely think we’re capable of it.”Also in basketball news, Andy Katz of ESPN.com says a recent push to do away with foreign exhibition trips is a bad move.Finally, Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Consitution writes that Nick Saban has been a bargain for Alabama. [...]

Bull Gator

September 1st, 2009
8:35 am

It has been impressive to watch Saban assemble a team that looks to compete year in and year out so quickly. However, last year’s success does not guarantee future success, especially when you have to compete with LSU every year just to win your division. Les Miles has been stockpiling talent on the bayou at an alarming rate. Last year’s AL team simply pushed people around at the line of scrimmage, which is something they won’t be able to do this year. I’m personally skeptical of the Tide this season, simply because they won’t have Andre Smith to lean on in critical situations. I’ve been saying for months that LSU is going to win the West, but they continue to get no love.

Thursday and Saturday are going to be big tests for the SEC. Ideally we walk away with 3 solid victories over NC opponents, but AL/VT is the only game I feel really confident about. And that’s only because Tyrod Taylor sucks as a QB. I think it’s going to be a defensive battle b/c both teams have very good defenses. Let’s hope UGA can sneak into Stillwater and pull out a win. And that the Ole Ball Coach still has some of the magic.

obscure reference

September 1st, 2009
8:37 am

That man, as mythical as you would have him appear, has had 1 good season at UA with no titles or trophies to show for it. Saban has never had back to back 9 win seasons…ever. Let’s wait until after this season before we hand him the “you are the greatest thing that ever happened to college football” award.

obscure reference

September 1st, 2009
8:42 am

already caught my mistake…never had back to back 10 win seasons. 13-1 and 9-3 at LSU.

m

September 1st, 2009
8:44 am

If Saban is worth all that…I wonder what Utah’s coach is worth after coming into the sec’s mecca, the Sugar Bowl…and stomping the bullshiiite out alabammmer?!?! Oooh that sec hype.

But one coach that Saban is worth more than is chan gomer gailey. chan gomer gailey is the worst toach in the history of the free world. He was as overhyped as the sec is….and he couldn’t live up to the hype…just like the sec doesn’t live up to it either.

Thanks to God and Greyhound, chan gomer gailey is gone forever. Every Tech fan and Tech website that ever supported or defended chan gomer gailey…you suck as bad as he does. It certainly didn’t take Kansas City six long sorry years to correct their mistake in hiring him.

Paul Johnson is the real deal…it is going to be fun to watch. If Tony Barnyard would take his sec blinders off, he would realize it to.

[...] the original post: Saban has been a bargain for Alabama | Mr. College Football Comments (0) Posted by on Tuesday, September 1st, [...]

Johnny Test

September 1st, 2009
9:01 am

I see the infamous M has flown in from the island of LOBOTOMY and puked up the same putrid inane remarks. Talk about a mental case.

Saban is an excellent coach and I agree that as long as he is at Alabama they are going to be in the hunt for the SEC title and top 10 rankings. I think Alabama will dominate the west because I think Wes Miles is the most over rated coach in the SEC. That said, I loved the absolute ass kicking they gave the “we have arrived” bumblebees.

Bama Aaron

September 1st, 2009
9:01 am

I read alot of jealously from the comments posted so far. We have him and you wish you had someone as dedicated and as good. Tony’s right he’s a bargain at the price we got him and still would be for quite a bit more money.
Looking forward to another great year starting this saturday night. ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Atlanta Gator

September 1st, 2009
9:01 am

Nick Saban is the best thing to happen to Alabama football in the last 17 seasons. No, he’s not perfect; but he gets results. Historically, he has had consistency issues; win 10 or 11 games one season, win 8 the next. Given the cycles of on-the-field success followed by graduation and early NFL defections, that may say more about the state of the college game than Nick Saban’s coaching abilities. (I’ll let the LSU and Bama fans chime in on this point.) In all events, he’s one of the handful of college coaches at the top of the game, and, given time, he will win SEC championships.

As for the wishful thinking by Tide opponents that he is soon to depart for Notre Dame, Michigan, West Virginia, wherever . . . it’s just that: wishful thinking. Saban is the head coach of one of the 5 or 6 most highly visible Division I programs. He is one of the three or four highest paid college coaches. His daughter is an Alabama undergraduate, and he has just committed to creating a $1 million scholarship fund in Tuscaloosa, with annual $100,000 contributions over 10 years. He is 57 years old. His most recent contract extension has him committed to the Tide for another 9 seasons (can anyone afford to walk away from $36 million?). These facts would seem to indicate Saban isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

So, let the man coach. His on-the-field record will speak for itself soon enough. If his 2009 team finished first or second in the SEC West, after all of the post-2008 losses to the NFL, he will have firmly cemented himself with the fans and administration. If he steers his program away from NCAA violations over his tenure and periodically delivers SEC championships, he may have the potential to become the 2nd most significant coach in the school’s history.

So, let the man coach. The rest will take care of itself, soon enough.

Spike

September 1st, 2009
9:09 am

A great college coach, to be sure. Mediocre at best in the NFL. As a big Dolophins fan don’t get me started on Nick “I am not going to Alabama” Saban.

SimpleDawg

September 1st, 2009
9:10 am

Hey m….. Bite one. You have a serious Chan Gailey problem….was he mean to you at some point in your pathetic past?

Nick Satan is certainly a great football coach, and Bama is definitely reaping the benefits. The question is….. How long until he gets bored winning 10 games each year and Whipping Aubarn, and decides he wants to go somewhere else for even more money and adulation.

The Goldie Domers should could use him in South Bendover….only, I’m not sure his vocabulary would wear well with the Fish Eaters. They’d have to get ear plugs for TD Jesus.

Spike

September 1st, 2009
9:11 am

M if you all are so damn smart, why did ya’ll hire the worst coach on the planet, according to you, in the first place?

Excusez-moi

September 1st, 2009
9:12 am

Les Miles overrated? He won the NC in 2007, when was the last time the mutts won something?

'Bama 1

September 1st, 2009
9:17 am

After reading all the blogs here, it sounds to me like everyone else that is not an Alabama fan is just pissed off that they don’t have Nick Saban for a coach!

Da truth

September 1st, 2009
9:19 am

Coach Saban is the best organizational leader in the NCAA. He also knows a little about defence!!!!

Joe

September 1st, 2009
9:20 am

Saban is a very, very good coach. Lots of them in the SEC. Fat and Tubs leaving last year helps balance things a little, now AU and Ufk will have 4-5 year down cycles.

I like LSU in the West. Bama will miss those tight ends a lot. Guys were road graders.

Slimpickens

September 1st, 2009
9:21 am

Did Bama play in the Sugar Bowl last year? I recall, Utah in a close one….

Miles

September 1st, 2009
9:22 am

Saban…a pretty damn good coach!

Joe

September 1st, 2009
9:23 am

Another thing that points to the stupidity of people from Alabama.

Just because another team does not love Saban, even points out that he is not really a great coach because he has never won back-to-back 10 games, does not mean that people are jealous or are sad that they do not have him.

There are lots of great coaches in the SEC, ACC and Big 12. I am pretty sure that Wake would rather have Jim Grobe than anyone else. Same with Gtu and Paul Johnson.

Please, I know it is against your nature Bama fans, but do not kowtow to stereotype and prove how stupid you are.

sact

September 1st, 2009
9:24 am

atlanta gator excellent post…you and others like you are why my second favorite team is the gators……you have no need to be jealous as so many others on here….hmmmm…m post always suck…..we got him, and he will be here till he no longer is coaching..RTR.

Slick Willard

September 1st, 2009
9:25 am

M, now that Chan Gailey has been fired as OC at Kansas City, I have it on good authority that he is negotiating with Paul Johnson to return to GT as an “advisor/associate head coach” . How ’bout them apples?

The Stig

September 1st, 2009
9:25 am

Keep on doubting Alabama, it’s great to be hated again

jjbamaman

September 1st, 2009
9:25 am

Thank you Tony, for telling the truth. I can understand the haters. They’re jealous. They don’t want to see Alabama back in contention. They’re still disgusted over the domination of the Coach Bryant years. As a Crimson Tide fan, I love it! Once again, we have a real leader! Coach Stallings was the only bright spot for seven years since 1983. We’ve had too many power-brokers at the University jockeying for position since then. They got in the way and managed to do a lot of damage with their bad decisions. Now we’re back on track with the right man in charge. He has great character and a competitive edge. The young men coached by him will be better citizens and know how to get the most out of themselves. He’s not the only great coach in this league. But he’s ours and we admire him! ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!

Brian B.

September 1st, 2009
9:28 am

It is a mistake to make a long term commitment to Nick Saban. There is nothing in his professional resume to indicate stability, and Alabama fans go absolutely insane in any season that includes two or more losses. What happens when the Tide lose a couple of games ? When they lose to Auburn? Alabama fans are delighted with last season’s overachievement, but what happens when the Tide underachieve ? What happens when Jerry Jones of the Cowboys needs a new coach ? Saban may be a control freak, but he also has an ego as big as all outdoors. Combine a volatile, vagabond coach with a crazed fan base, and I seriously doubt that Nick Saban will be coaching the Crimson Tide in 2017.

Ted

September 1st, 2009
9:29 am

I’m sure Florida fans are OK “settling” for Meyer, USC fans have resigned themselves to “live” with Carroll and even OSU fans can stomach the thought of “enduring” with Tressel. And so on.

There are a lot of very good coaches out there. Saban is one of them. But the arrogance of Bama fans is the clear winner if they think that “everyone else” is “pissed” that their coach isn’t Saban.

jjbamaman

September 1st, 2009
9:31 am

Joe,

Obsession noted. So is your lack of knowledge. So in what state do you represent stupidity?

sact

September 1st, 2009
9:35 am

RTR. . . . IT IS NICE TO HAVE SO MUCH HATE! ESPECIALLY FROM THE BARNERS AND VOLLIES AND TO SEE THEIR PROGRAMS IN SUCH DISARAY , RTREnter your comments here

Jerry Jones Hires Saban?

September 1st, 2009
9:38 am

Brian B.

Do you really think Saban would return to the NFL?

Otto

September 1st, 2009
9:41 am

It is early to be singing Saban’s praise’s, Bama will give anyone an extension if they win 10 games (remember Shula). Saban hs never won 10 back to back lets see what he can do at Bama.

There is something that indicates stability on Saban’s resume, he always moves to a better job. Who will pay more, have better facilities, and create more of a legend than winning at Bama? Saban needs Bama as bad as Bama needs him.

Bamafan

September 1st, 2009
9:43 am

Saban is a very very good coach and like Tony said Bama is lucky to have him!! Just think if Nick Saban
had stayed at LSU and not gone to the NFL and become the Dolphins head coach Saban probably
would have won another national championship and several more SEC championships. When LSU
beat the Vols in the 01 sec championship game I said than watchout for the bengal tigers. Saban is
in the top ten of head coaches in college football and one other thing he players graduate from college at a high rate and really that is the most important thing about his programs!! ROLL TIDE FOLKS!!

'Bama 1

September 1st, 2009
9:44 am

Did i hit a nerve Joe? Did’nt see the nameof a team that you pulled for, or do you even know anything about football?

Eric

September 1st, 2009
9:50 am

Saban could be Osama bin Laden III, but if he wins games, the toilet paper and washing powder crowd would still love him. He may be a good coach, but that doesn’t make him a good man.

Johnny Test

September 1st, 2009
9:52 am

LSU backed into the 2007 NC. A two loss team will never get that opportunity again. What has he done since?

Got 12?

September 1st, 2009
9:56 am

Eric,

Do you mean the way you guys still love Pat Dye even though he brought shame and national ridicule to Auburn? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieX-pNMnwFE

CharlotteGator

September 1st, 2009
10:01 am

Saban is certainly a good coach and Bama is lucky to have him. He’s done a great job and will continue to do so given Alabama’s resources, history, and passion to be a great college football program.

That being said, I’m not so sure other fans are ‘jealous’ that their schools don’t have Coach Saban. Saban’s style of play is one that very much suits Alabama’s tradition and football mentality. I don’t know though that his style of play would transfer well at say UF. After the Spurrier years put us on the map, I don’t think that the Gators could have gone over to the smash mouth, ball control, stifling defense style that Saban has been uber-successful with. Meyer has been a great fit at UF because his style isn’t too far a cry from what Gator fans saw and grew accustomed to when we began to have a little success. I’d argue that programs on par with Alabama right now (not historically or anything like that, just today and who can and can’t win the SEC) such as UF, UGA, Ole Miss, LSU probably aren’t jealous and wishing they had Saban as they’re probably very happy with who they have now and the job those coaches have done. And even still, the programs trying to come up and improve probably desire Saban’s results more so than they desire the actual coach.

Bama fans are in love with Saban now, but I’d guess what they’re most proud about is what he’s done to bring them back to relevance. If I remember right, before Saban showed up, there was a nice little crush on RichRod. Is he a better coach than Saban? Obviously, current state would prove no, but I think what either of them represented to Bama fans at the time (a big name who could come turn the program around and give it some juice) was much more important than the actual man that got brought in.

Gen Neyland

September 1st, 2009
10:03 am

Give this guy whatever he wants..? Sounds like new a new set of luggage is in order…In truth, if Saban can keep the Red Elephants Probation-Free, he’ll have done more than they bargained for. ‘Course, I expect him to win a couple SEC titles at Alabama sometime before 2017. The odds are in his favor…

Gator Growl

September 1st, 2009
10:04 am

Tony, you mentioned a “life-time” contract but I don’t think that is any better an idea than these “coaches-in-waiting” deals. Look, I wouldn’t trade Urban Meyer for Vince Lombardi right now, but I DON”T think a “lifetime contract” would be a wise option for either party. Just look at the Charlie Weiss situation, what if ND doesn’t win at least 8 games this season? Then what???

ReptilesRule

September 1st, 2009
10:07 am

Growl, I wouldn’t trade Urban for 3 Nick Sabans either but I have to agree…

obscure reference

September 1st, 2009
10:07 am

Brian B.,

My thoughts exactly. Saban’s history of underachieving the year following an overachieving year points to some pretty mad rabid bama fans this year if they don’t win the west or a NC. Their “cultural problem” can’t handle a 9 win season when they expect a NC. The boosters and AD office will wrestle back that control TB talks about Saban having. They will run him off. I seriously doubt that Saban is going to keep the program clean with the NCAA keeping a close eye and fishing trips floating around…

whitx2

September 1st, 2009
10:08 am

Johnny Test

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. Now you know better than that. We’re talking about Saban and not Les Miles. Get on board, dude.

Brian B.

September 1st, 2009
10:10 am

I think ego leads you to make bad decisions. Don’t believe it ? Ask Steve Spurrier and the Washington Redskins. Do I think Saban will grow restless and look for a new challenge ? Do I think Saban would like to be wooed by an NFL owner with deep pockets ? Someday … absolutely.

Just the Facts

September 1st, 2009
10:16 am

Wasn’t the same thing being written about Richt after his first two years at Georgia.The SEC is a tough league to play in.What goes up eventually comes down. Thats why I laugh at Florida fans…have fun while you can telling everyone how great you are and how great Meyer is. Your day is coming. You will eventually lose and another SEC team take your place at the top. Alabama just might be that team but not for long. The league is to good. The coaches are to good and these things have a tendancy to move in cycles. Lets face it, until Florida hired Spurrier nobody even gave them the time of day…their program was a joke.Meyer has gotten lucky in his first few years at the school. Without superman Tebow does anybody really think the gators would have been as sucessful as they have been. Lets see what they do once boy wonder graduates.A few years ago Auburn was the class of the league, now look at them, rebuilding after stupid coaching moves by their administration. LSU has been up and down so many times over the past ten years with all the talent they’ve had its a wonder their fans haven’t revolted. Nich Saban is a good coach,not a great coach.Keep throwing your money at him, because he’ll spend it. Why don’t you enlarge your stadium to seat 150,000 then you can brag about that to. Have fun while you can Alabama fans because remember what goes up eventually comes down in the SEC.

Johnny Test

September 1st, 2009
10:16 am

Right… just got side tracked.. I am a diehard SEC fan so I should show LSU a little more respect.

Got 12?

September 1st, 2009
10:19 am

Brian B.,

I think that’s already happened. Ever heard of Stephen M. Ross, Wayne Huizenga, and the Miami Dolphins?

G8R GRAD

September 1st, 2009
10:20 am

By all accounts Coach Saban brought that train into the station at least a year early last year. He may be a control freak, but the Alabama loyal ought to be gratefule he’s THEIR control freak.
Saban is, as Atlanta Gator once quoted, “just another brick in the wall” reinforcing the SEC as the premier conference in D-1 football.
Good luck to him, and his squad, this fall. RTR!

And GO GATORS!

Got 12?

September 1st, 2009
10:21 am

Just the Facts = Disgruntled Fan of Some Other SEC School