This is not a postulation on whether Saban would leave. Not yet, anyway.
Frankly, that’s a discussion that would get skewed by the audience here. The Barking Carnival crowd (and just ask Sailor Ripley, I do love you guys) is about 90/10 in thinking that no right-minded person could ever choose Tuscaloosa over Austin. Over at Roll Bama Roll, that would be about 90/10 the other way. As you would expect.
I would merely like to point out:
1) There are other factors to the Hicks/Sexton conversation that make it less than a smoking gun.
2) The vast majority of the Alabama fanbase is really not freaking out about this. At all. It does not come up in conversations, there is no angst, there is no consternation, there is no back-channel fan discussion about finding a successor. None of that.
Some of your folks seem to call that "whistling past the graveyard." Whistling at least makes some noise — the subject here is met with almost universal silence, not the idle braggadocio of fans trying to paper over a negative outcome.
Some other folks here seem to think that Saban is a ruthless, power-mad asshole with no allegiance to anything but himself. I would challenge those people to start randomly plucking names out of the coaching profession – not just head coaches, but assistants – and see how much people move around until they either get a Destination job, or are fired.
- At what point in time has Michigan State ever been a Destination job?
- Which coaches have ever retired, going out on top at LSU?
- Miami Dolphins? Mutual parting of the ways, no matter how badly Dan La Batard wants to spin it.
I’m just saying that you guys ought to be damned proud of your legacy and your tradition. You are one of a handful of programs that are at the top of the heap. There are no steps up, and no need to take a lateral step over.
So why the assumption that there exist no other Destinations? I’ll start with a list (no particular order):
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
Can Nick Saban step away from Alabama, and tackle another challenge? Yes, he most certainly can. This is the United States, and he is a free adult.
Would he? It would take a compelling reason. Maybe even some uncertainty about a working relationship with a new athletic director.
Now for the inside information. I have a first cousin (yes, actual blood relative, known her all my life, and please refrain from stereotypical hick-marriage jokes, because you guys really don’t need to stoop to that) who worked in Saban’s office until last year. Her observation? Going through that tornado outbreak in April 2011 made a noticeable change, in both coach and Miss Terry. They really bonded with Tuscaloosa, and that does matter in the long run.
Naturally, this means that he's packing his bags right now, and getting ready to bolt.