The rumors won't go away: Nick Saban keeps getting tied to the head coaching job many expect to be vacant by the end of the season at Texas. This time the news is centered around a report that Saban's agent said if Saban were to leave Alabama it would only be for Texas.
Saban, for his part, continues to say he's going nowhere. But that doesn't mean we can't look at the merits of the job and whether Saban should be interested in it. Is Texas really a better place for him to be than Alabama?
My colleague, Max Olson, and I took on that question today in a Take Two debate.
Take 1: Scarborough -- It's simply not worth it
Nick Saban is too darn old to go anywhere, even a place like Texas.
When's the last time you heard of a 62-year-old coach leaving an established program to resurrect a failing one? Saban is great, arguably the best coach in college football today, but he's not at a point in his life where he'll run from a good situation to chase the challenge of fixing a bad one.
He tried that once. He learned his lesson. He left in the afterglow of LSU's national championship only to realize the beaches of Miami weren't quite as warm as he expected.
Texas, granted, is different. There's a lot to like about walking into Austin. The city is nice and the campus is beautiful. Saban would get total control there and have every resource imaginable. He could mine many of the country's blue-chip recruits without ever leaving the state's borders.
Though his legacy has very little room from improvement, it would no doubt reach new heights if he brought Texas back from the dead.
But it's a fool's errand for someone like Saban. What he has at Alabama is what he'd try to build at Texas. And what's the point of that? Why not enjoy a nice city and a beautiful campus both he and his wife already enjoy? He already has complete control and every resource imaginable from the administration. Unlike dealing with Texas' convoluted and overly involved boosters, Saban has no red tape to cut through at Alabama. He wanted a new weight room and it happened. Alabama broke ground on a new $9 million facility before the project was ever voted on by the Board of Trustees. It was finished in less than nine months.
And recruiting? Tell me how you build upon back-to-back top-ranked classes and top-three finishes every year since 2008. Saban has had no problem convincing the country's top prospects to choose Alabama so far. He has the No. 1 class today and that's not likely to change before signing day in February.
Texas has prestige, but Alabama has what more people -- and recruits --- care about today: success they can remember. The three crystal football trophies sitting around the corner from Saban's office are enough reminder not to flirt with another program.
If he left, it would be for nothing other than vanity over his legacy because at the end of the day Alabama is already there while Texas isn't anywhere close. It would be a challenge, and Saban is too darn old for that.
Take 2: Olson -- Texas is alluring
The head coaching job at the University of Texas is the best in college football. There is nothing controversial about that statement. If you’re putting together the list -- be it a top 25 or 125 -- Texas is at the top and has been for a long time.
This is the complete package. Everything is in place to win and win big. Let’s go down the list.
Gorgeous campus and city. Elite stadium and facilities. Unparalleled resources and budgets. Strong tradition and national brand. Optimal recruiting territory. Gigantic paycheck. And that’s just the short list.
The head coach of Texas is afforded immense power and near-unparalleled advantages. They have the backing of the richest program in college athletics, and the school spent nearly $25 million on football in 2011-12. It’s been written plenty before but it’s still true: If you can’t win at Texas, go find a new profession.
There’s a reason why Texas A&M and Oklahoma fans make T-shirts demanding that Texas keep Mack Brown. They know the next coach in Austin will have a chance to build the next Death Star of college football.
That’s what potentially makes this opening tempting for Saban. If he’s looking for a breath of fresh air, Texas is as close to paradise as he’s going to find. There are “special pressures” to be found in Austin, too, there’s no doubt about that. But there’s also enough talent on this Texas roster to win immediately, especially considering he’d get a blank check to assemble the best coaching staff in the game.
You can’t ignore the allure. You can't dispute the fact it's a gigantic opportunity. Yes, Alabama will probably raise or double any offer Texas makes. But he’s already tried the NFL. If there’s any job worthy of the final move of his career, this might be it.
To Saban’s credit, he has revived Alabama’s status as a big-time job. Nobody will be surprised if he decides he really is “too damn old” to start over elsewhere and finishes out his career in Tuscaloosa. Most guys would not walk away from that dynasty.
But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Texas would make a move for him if and when its job opens up. The Longhorns might not hire another head coach for a decade. They must exhaust every possible option and explore every avenue to luring the nation’s best coach and building his next dynasty.