Nick Saban to the Colts Makes Zero Sense


It is no secret that current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is likely in his last year with the team. The rumors have been swirling since the start of the season as management has set him up to be the fall guy if the team fails to win a championship (and possibly even if they do).

That sort of “all-or-nothing” mentality is ridiculous and completely unfair to Pagano who has generally done a good job with a roster controlled by GM Ryan Grigson.

But over the weekend we heard rumors about possible candidates to take over as head coach in 2016. Chief among those names was Alabama head coach Nick Saban. 

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For the life of me I cannot understand why fans are clamoring for Saban to take over this team. Every year you can attach his name to some NFL team who is looking for a new coach, basically because he’s been wildly successful at the college level (four national championships with two different teams).

But fans often forget that Saban was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins not too long ago. He was there for two years, 2005-06, and posted a 15-17 record. He left the team in early January of 2007, almost immediately after the end of the season for the Alabama job.

Saban failed in the pros for a number of reasons, chief among them being Joey Harrington, Gus Frerotte, and the corpse of Daunte Culpepper at QB. It was also fairly clear that Saban is just a better fit as a college coach.

There are a few reasons why Saban won’t be at the top of the list for the Colts.

  1. He’ll want control. Any college coach is essentially a GM too, able to bring in their own players. If Saban comes to the NFL, he’ll want that level of control and if the Colts retain Ryan Grigson, that won’t happen. Grigson wants the personnel control over the team, and that has created friction between him and Pagano. Grigson wants a coach that he can pull the strings with, and there is no way that will ever be Saban.
  2. Salary. Saban currently makes $7.1 million per year. That number would put him in the top five earners in NFL coaches, among the likes of Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, and Pete Carroll (all of whom have Super Bowl rings and earned the paycheck). Saban’s number doesn’t even include all of the perks of being a head coach at a program like Alabama. Pagano currently makes roughly $4.5 million, middle of the pack in the NFL coaches. Would Jim Irsay really be willing to spend more than $7 million a year on a coach who has never had success in the NFL?
  3. We’ve heard this before. Again, Saban is brought up every single year and each time he denies the rumors and nothing changes. He is akin to a god in Alabama right now who can do no wrong. Team loses? It was the players or coordinators fault. In the NFL? It’s all on Saban. He recently mentioned that if the Dolphins had signed Drew Brees, he’d still be in the NFL (but that doesn’t really fit with the chain of events leading to the Bama job). Some have inferred that he might leave college to coach Andrew Luck, but that really seems like a big stretch.

A few other names have been thrown around, like Jim Harbaugh but that also wouldn’t work. He does have Colts ties, and coached Luck in college. But Harbaugh just got out of a bad GM-coach relationship for a shiny new job at his alma mater in Michigan.

Then there is Stanford’s David Shaw, another coach of Luck’s, who has been on the NFL watch list for a few years now. The Colts could also look from within and promote offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who was a hot name in the head coaching circuits last season.

The Colts dug themselves into a hole when they didn’t extend Pagano’s contract before the season. Sure, they offered him a one-year deal for a paltry amount and he promptly turned it down. But Irsay could have easily given Pagano a multi-year deal and still fired him at the end of the season. It would have at least put some of the rumors to bed, or given the owner and GM something to point to and say “why would he be on the hotseat with a four year deal?”

The Colts are likely going to be in the market for a head coach this offseason, but the answer certainly isn’t Nick Saban.

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