Nick Saban’s contract was extended for three years on Monday and will last until the 2028 season.
There was a time when many thought the Alabama coach wouldn’t even consider a job at Tuscaloosa, let alone stay long enough for a potential 22-year coaching tenure.
“In reality, there was no reason to believe that would be the case,” ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum told me Thursday during an appearance on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5. “I did an article and spoke to (talking heads). They just scratched it. They called him a liar and a fraud. They said he wouldn’t be here in two years. He’s back in the NFL.
His longest stints as a head coach were at LSU (2000-04) and Michigan State (1995-99) before that. He was in the middle of a stint with the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) where he finished 9-7 in Year 1 before a 6-10 campaign the following year when he emphatically said, “I not going to be the Alabama coach. “
Despite his record in the NFL, it was difficult to convince anyone otherwise at this point.
“There was no way of knowing he would be there in the long term,” Finebaum said Thursday. “I always thought that after four or five years he might be tempted by the NFL.”
So I went to the archives.
Indeed, in December 2006, Finebaum – then a columnist for the Press-Register – quoted a few people you may have heard of.
Colin Cowherd, ESPN, in 2006: “The one everyone thinks is such a good job and I don’t is Alabama. They have a bad sports director, Bear Bryant’s son is your boss. They have wacky wacky boosters, absurd and unrealistic scrutiny, hyper-competitive environment …
Jim Rome was the host of ESPN’s “Rome is Burning” TV show at the time: “Maybe Alabama wouldn’t have fired Mike Shula so quickly if they knew no one in America who only counted would be ready to step in and replace him. Look who already said no Nick Saban: Pass. Coach Ol ‘Ball: No thanks Frank Beamer: Why should I? Bobby Petrino: Downgrade Rich Rodriguez: Do “Me. Oh, and Jim Leavitt doesn’t want nothing to do with you. It must hurt. Being Alabama and getting the Heisman from the South Florida coach, at least U was turned down by Rutgers.” At this point you might as well dig up Bear Bryant. Or better yet, see if Mike Price is still interested. Believe me you won’t do better. The front of the jersey can still say Alabama but in name only. ‘is nowhere right now. It has become an SEC reflection after the fact. Enjoy the glory days of Bryant, Namath, Stabler, Stal lings, Alexander, Price because that’s all you’ve got and it’s not going to change.
Yet even after Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, many said it wouldn’t last.
In February 2007, Cowherd declared that then Florida coach Urban Meyer “will own Saban.” Finebaum pointed out, at the time, that nicknames like “Flipper”, “Slick Nick” and “Nick Satan” were frantic reminders of a man who once said he would not be the coach of the club. ‘Alabama.
Lou Holtz, in “The Miami Herald” in 2007, said: “I think Nick Saban is a great coach and a smart man, but if he’s like me, he’ll regret the decision to leave the Dolphins like he is. did. I still regret leaving the Jets to this day because the owner, GM, players and fans trusted me and I didn’t make it. I didn’t do my best to them.
“I’m not criticizing Nick Saban’s decision. I’m just saying that I regret that I quit so far because I have been unfair to people who trusted me, and he might feel the same one day.
In 2008, in an article in “The Press-Register”, the story was already changing.
“What this means now is that as Alabama moves forward, rookies no longer see Alabama just as a school of tradition but as a school that competes for the SEC and national championships,” he said. said Tom Luginbill, national director of recruiting for ESPN in 2008., this is what every child would love to do throughout their career.
Flash forward to the present. Approaching 70, Saban would be 77 when the contract expired and in one place few – if any – thought he would, even for a few seasons.
Saban’s base salary and talent fee of $ 8.425 million for 2021 “will increase each year for the duration of the contract.” He added that there would be a “contract completion benefit” of $ 800,000 paid to Saban at the end of contract years 2022 to 2025.
Still, Finebaum said Saban is worth so much more.
“Not only is he the greatest coach of all time, he is still the best coach today. He earns eight or nine million dollars a year. If he was on Wall Street he would make $ 150 million a year, maybe even more, ”Finebaum said in“ Get Up ”Tuesday.
Former University of Alabama Dr. Robert Witt, according to Finebaum, said the $ 4 million Crimson Tide paid Saban at the time “was the best investment they ever made.”
Since the age of 65, Saban is 57-5 overall (35-3 in SEC), two national titles, according to Bruce Feldman. He is entering his 15th season and led Alabama to six national championships and seven SEC championships, while compiling a record of 170-23.
“He is by far the lowest paid coach in the history of the sport,” Finebaum said.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.