Friday, December 13, 2013

Should (And Will) Saban Leave Texas?

Let it be known that I will be showing this gif anytime
 I mention Bama's loss in the Iron Bowl. 
Can you feel it? The collective anticipation of two monumental fanbases, waiting in agony of whether or not the greatest coach in the last three decades will be coaching at their university next year. In the last month, Alabama fans have gone from hearing mild rumors of Saban leaving for Texas while feeling great about the season, to watching their team lose to their in-state rival in the most miraculously way possible while simultaneously losing the chance at a three peat national championship run, to actually fearing that Saban will pack his shit and head to Austin. In the past week or so days, rumors have been building that Saban could really be mulling over the possibility of leaving Alabama and replacing lame duck coach Mack Brown. The writing is on the wall for Brown, who has again failed to get his team anywhere close to where it stood 4-5 years ago. Brown lost two early season games in spectacular fashion to BYU and Ole Miss in the first three games, and despite a great midseason run, lost to Baylor with the Big 12 Championship on the line while scoring only 10 points. Saban does have a real choice presented to him as either one of these schools could potentially be where he stakes a different legacy.

If you keep hearing people talking about "whats the better job" between Alabama and Texas, just tune it out. It's bullshit. These are two of the most prominent, historic programs in college football's history. Texas has numerous advantages over Alabama from the head coach's perspective. Saban is a fantastic recruiter, and if he were to take the coaching job at Texas, he would barely have to leave the state. According to Rivals, since 2010 the state of Texas has made up 13 out of the top 100 players in the country and has accounted for an average of 3 five star recruits each year. Mack Brown has done a poor job of keeping that kind of talent in state. Saban would not have that issue. He would have no problem convincing that kind of talent to stay home and play for him with his track record of an eye for talent and building up pro caliber players like a factory. Throw in the fact that he can get almost any recruit that he wants anyway, and Texas can quickly assemble some USC 2003-2006 kind of team. His known strategy would make Texas a national title contender in a matter of years. He turned a a 7-6 Alabama team into 12-2 his second in which they were ranked #1 until the SECCG against Tebow. Texas already has a tremendous amount of talent, so it isn't like Saban is walking into a complete disaster. That will also be important because if Texas is going to make the offer interesting, they are going to have to show him the promise of winning in the next three or four years. Saban has a great thing going at Alabama, but he is about to lose his three year starting quarterback and a higher proportion of players on defense than even he is used to. Texas would give him an immediate station to start winning.

Texas would be a stressful job for Saban as the Longhorns would demand instant results, but I still think that it would be less stressful than his current role at Alabama. Tide fans have become the most spoiled sports fans in the country, and they now are starting to view championships as a birth right. I don't think they are stupid enough to want Saban fired for losing the Iron Bowl, but Saban's wife has has mentioned that he feels the pressure every single year to win out and take the Tide all the way. The SEC is undoubtedly the best conference in the NCAA and is almost impossible to navigate through without acquiring at least one loss. The Big 12 has seen some teams on the rise (Oklahoma State and Baylor), but from top to bottom it is not as powerful a conference as the SEC. Instead of playing Auburn, LSU, and then a mix of SEC East teams like Florida and Georgia, Saban would only have to overcome Oklahoma and then maybe Baylor or Oklahoma State annually. Mike Golic from ESPN said that because of Texas's strength of schedule, the Longhorns would have a harder time making the playoff. That was easily the most idiotic thing he said all day. Texas will consistently get the benefit of the doubt if they are undefeated, or even have one loss, with Saban at the helm. The guy has won four national titles for Christ's sake; do you really think the selection committee would keep him and Texas out of the playoffs if they are winning 11-12 games every year? The pressure to succeed at Texas wouldn't be any lesser than it is at Alabama, but the degree of difficulty to reach the playoffs would be noticeably less.

Still, I really can't imagine a situation in which Saban leaves Texas. Let's be clear first: this is not about which university can throw the biggest contract his way. He gets paid a bit more than six million dollars a year from Alabama right now. Both Alabama and Texas have the capability of paying Saban nine to ten million a year, so this really has nothing to do with money. If you don't think they will do everything they can do get Saban to head their way, you're mistaken.

The biggest lure for him is that he is already established at Alabama where he is basically treated like a god. He probably never pays for a meal and could command a person to lay down in the mud so his shoes don't get scuffed and they would instantly. He already has a fucking statue of him on the campus. I'm not joking when I say I think he could run for governor and get elected in Alabama. What he has accomplished with the Tide since taking over in 2007 is absolutely astonishing. Three of his seven seasons coaching in Alabama have ended with a national championship and he had two more teams ranked #1 heading into the last game or SECCG (2008, 2013). That's a two game swing where Alabama has the chance to instead win up to five championships in his seven years. He has perfected his own system of recruiting the best players the south has to offer and his teams are always the most athletically imposing. While he would have a tremendous amount of in state talent at Texas, there is the risk of not being able to retain players from the southeast as easily. Like I've said, he's a great recruiter but his location at Alabama has him at a huge advantage when recruiting in the southeast. The university sits in a great location that makes drives to Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana very short which is important to recruiting. Many players want to stay close to home so their families can watch them more frequently. Saban runs the risk of losing this, as well as many recruits who desire to play in the strongest conference, if he absconds to Texas.

It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks with the bowl games on the horizon. Saban is still coaching in a BCS game while Brown has a tough match against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. Everyone is reporting that they would be surprised if Brown isn't the coach for the bowl game, but in this business the only people who really know are the AD and university president. I'll be keeping this updated as more information becomes available.

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