It’s one of the cruel ironies of coaching. Often the most coveted gigs are the toughest to maintain. Why? Because the pressure is sky-high every year.
Alabama is one of those jobs.
How much longer will Nick Saban last in Tuscaloosa, especially now that he’s gone two straight years without a national title?
“So he’s going into his ninth year, which is almost reaching double (digits),” author Monte Burke said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “His longest stint before that anyplace was five years, so he’s already kind of outlived a lot of expectations in terms of that. I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball, but my gut says that that Texas flirtation was maybe the last one. I think he’s concerned about his legacy now. He’s going to be 64 this Halloween. There are not too many coaches (older than him). Bill Snyder and (Steve) Spurrier are older than he is, but he’s now one of the older coaches around. I think he’s starting to think about legacy a little bit. I think that means he will probably stay at Alabama. Now who knows? Maybe he’ll have another two-loss season and the fans will drive him crazy and he’ll go somewhere else.”
Burke, who has recently authored the book Saban: The Making of a Coach, was asked how important it is for Saban to surpass the legacy of Bear Bryant. Imagine if Saban had gone to Texas and won a national title there; he would have been the only coach to win national titles at three different programs, and at that point, it would be difficult to call Saban anything but the greatest of all time. Now that he has stayed in Alabama, however, Saban is left chasing an almost mythical figure in The Bear.
“According to the Texas regents and the Texas boosters that I talked to who actually talked to Jimmy Sexton, that was one of the things that Jimmy talked about,” Burke said. “Hey, he’ll come here, he’ll finish his career here, he’ll win one more national championship here and that’ll be a legacy. No one’s ever done that. At one time, he was the only one to win at two different places. Of course Urban Meyer joined him last year, so yes, I think that was probably part of it.”
Saban has won four national titles. Bryant won six.
“Some of his friends did say that’s on his mind a little bit. That’s a goal,” Burke said. “He certainly doesn’t talk about it as much as Tiger’s talks about Nicklaus’ records, but I do think that’s part of the goal. But I also think he’s a different coach than Bear Bryant. People down here – I grew up (in Alabama) for a little while, so I kind of understand this a little bit – they don’t worship him as much as they worship Bear Bryant, but they could if he sticks around. That love that we give for these old coaches is kind of nostalgic. It’s when the coaches are gone (that we really miss them). So I don’t think he’d ever surpass the love given for Bear Bryant, but I think he could approach it.”