5 Reasons Why Nick Saban Will Leave For NFL

    Will Nick Saban leave for the NFL after the College Football Playoff national championship? Here are five reasons why he might be gone.

    January 6, 2016

    Will Nick Saban leave for the NFL? Here are five reasons why he might be gone.

    Follow … @PeteFiutak

    It’s the one big piece in the coaching carousel puzzle that everyone appears to be waiting on – is Nick Saban interested at all in going back to the NFL?

    The Alabama job turned out to be better than the Miami Dolphin gig, but after all the success, all the accolades, and all the championships, the NFL is still out there as a big, giant challenge left to take on. Is it possible that the greatest college football coach of the last decade – and maybe of all-time – could really bolt for the league of mercenaries? Here are five reasons why he just might do it.

    1. Alabama has to reload. At least for Alabama.

    It’s Alabama, so NFL-caliber stars will be replaced by more NFL-caliber stars, but even a factory like this has to rebuild things once in a while. Clemson was able to replace just about all the key parts up front defensively and turned out just fine, so why couldn’t the Crimson Tide find more top talents, plug them in, and go on to win more national titles?

    Of course that could happen, but if RB Derrick Henry and TE O.J. Howard choose to leave early, that would mean the offense will likely have to replace six starters, start all over again at quarterback, rely on a new running back to step in for Henry and Kenyan Drake, and hope another leader can rise up at center in place of Ryan Kelly. The receiving corps is going to be deadly, and most programs would love to be able to start Alabama’s backups, but there’s still work to be done.

    The defense is even a bigger problem. Of course the Crimson Tide will be among the nation’s best defenses again against the run, but this front three was different. This was the best line – and possibly the best front seven – Saban has ever had, and now he’s going to almost certainly lose A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen to the NFL along with seniors Jarran Reed and Darren Lake. Reggie Ragland should’ve left early to make millions last year, and if Rueben Foster is gone, the linebacking corps might be a total gut job.

    Again, boo-hoo, no one’s going to cry about any lack of skill on both sides of the ball, but it’ll still take some reworking. That’s a problem considering …

    2. The schedule.

    As many SEC teams know all too well, you can do just about everything right and it might not matter. The Crimson Tide have to rebuild in a hurry away from home.

    Alabama isn’t going to fear anyone no matter how many replacements need to be made, but if Saban does stick around, this might be the year others get a little payback.

    USC loses Cody Kessler, but it returns one of the most dangerous and athletic teams in the country for the season-opener in Arlington, Texas on September 3rd. Ole Miss has a lot of work to do, but that’s a road game. Arkansas and Tennessee should be loaded, and those are back-to-back road games before hosting Texas A&M.

    And that’s all in the first half of the season, to go along with home games against WKU and Kentucky – both teams will probably go bowling.

    If that wasn’t enough, the Crimson Tide kick off November at LSU. It’s the last road game of the year – Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Auburn are at home – but as SEC teams have known for years, all it takes is one slip and that’s enough to be an also-ran. 10-2 SEC teams don’t play on New Year’s Eve.

    3. There’s one really, really good job opening out there that Saban might want.

    Unfortunately, the best job might be Miami, and that’s obviously not going to happen.

    Saban wouldn’t dive into the Cleveland mess, and he wouldn’t even consider the San Francisco disaster, but Philadelphia might be intriguing and Tennessee could be fun. If he really wants to mold a franchise, the Titan job might be the one considering the changes all across the board, but does he really want to spend the next three years dealing with that?

    The New York Giants opening, though, might be exactly the right one to step into.

    With Eli Manning in place and a good nucleus that might just need a wee bit of tweaking, New York could easily be a dangerous playoff team next year in a division with the flaky Redskins, a Philadelphia franchise starting over, and a Dallas team that’s one more Tony Romo crunch away from probably starting Johnny Manziel. If the idea is to go back to the NFL and do it big, this is the job.

    4. Nothing left to prove.

    The “he’s better than Bear Bryant” talk is already starting.

    Assume Alabama doesn’t choke and the national title over Clemson is a relative breeze, what more could he possibly do?

    That would make it five national titles in his last 11 seasons of college coaching and four in the last eight. As he’s already started to intimate over the last several days, that’s impossible to do.

    To win another national championship would make the timing almost perfect to leave a legend on the highest of notes. There’s nowhere to go but down – even if it’s just a little bit – and the last thing he wants to do is coach in college when there’s no national title on the line.

    If things don’t go right next year and Alabama isn’t in the playoff, you think the guy will jump out of bed to coach the Sugar Bowl?

    Which is why …

    5. It’s time

    If it’s going to happen, right after beating Clemson – and Alabama is going to beat Clemson – would be it.

    He’s going to turn 65 next football season. If it really might take a year to rebuild, and the schedule really is a factor, will he want to go through all of that, including the loss of longtime defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, on the chance that he could win another national title in 2017? Let’s say that doesn’t work out, will the NFL still be a viable option to do all he’d want to do at 67 or 68?

    Tom Coughlin is 67, and the two Super Bowl wins didn’t matter a lick in a wildly disappointing season in New York.

    Pete Carroll is just six weeks older than Saban and at the top of his game – he’s the model. He’s the example of what a college coach can do if he’s forward thinking enough and catches a few breaks. Bill Belichick struggled and was fired in the NFL before he became a god. Saban wasn’t a total failure at Miami going 15-17, but there’s still plenty of unfinished business on the resume. If he has any desire to do this, now is the time.

    Will Nick Saban go to the NFL?

    At the very least, his agent Jimmy Sexton will make everyone think he’s turning pro to get another raise added on to the pile of money that’ll make his great-grandchildren just a little more comfortable.

    No one has any true insight. Most around Alabama can’t fathom why he’d ever want to leave Tuscaloosa, and the NFL insiders are going on a guess and hearsay, mainly because there won’t be any chatter whatsoever until after the national championship.

    Woe to the media type who starts a question to Saban with something like, “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t bring this up … “

    Saban supposedly likes where he’s at in terms of family, comfort and familiarity, but it’s no secret that the NFL is the white whale that’s out there.

    My guess based on nothing but total speculation? 51/49 we’re all writing about his new contract … with Alabama.

    MORE: Alabama vs. Clemson Predicition, Championship Game Preview


    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion