Elephant In the Room: Are Colts Waiting on Nick Saban to Make Coaching Splash?
While all is quiet regarding head coach Chuck Pagano‘s future, there is increasing speculation that Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay could be waiting on Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban to finish the championship game Monday before actively recruiting him:
"“But I keep wondering how many national titles it will take for Saban to think it might be time to look around, particularly at age 65,” wrote The MMQB’s Peter King on Wednesday. “What happens if Jim Irsay does more than wonder why his team just won eight games with Andrew Luck at quarterback, and why so many of those eight were fights to the death against the Jacksonvilles of the league? Indy is not Tuscaloosa, but it might be small enough to appeal to Saban and his wife. The Colts’ quarterback certainly would. I’ll always think that’s the thing Saban looks back on with regret—not stretching to sign Drew Brees, coming off shoulder surgery, in Miami in 2006.”"
Irsay reportedly had some interest in Saban during last year’s offseason; however, Saban has repeatedly turned down potential NFL coaching opportunities in the past–and Irsay instead opted to stick with the status quo.
As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be anything imminent on the Saban front (per the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder):
However, that doesn’t mean that something couldn’t soon change–just as we saw last offseason, when it seemed like a foregone conclusion that both head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson would be let go by the Colts franchise, only to be re-signed to multi-year extensions during the 11th hour of ‘Black Monday’.
Saban would for sure be a ‘coaching splash’ for Irsay–his biggest since signing former head coach Tony Dungy in 2002, which brought instant credibility and a winning culture to the franchise.
The 65 year old Saban has a 210-60-1 (.777) career collegiate coaching record including 5 National Championships, as a 2x AP National Coach of the Year.
While Saban was only 15-17 during his two seasons coaching the Miami Dolphins (2005-06), he also had Gus Frerotte and later a diminished Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, and a quarterback named Cleo Lemon.
Simply put, he never had a quarterback like Andrew Luck at the professional level–which made that failed Drew Brees signing really sting. Nevertheless, Saban may have learned from some of his earlier mistakes in Miami.
That being said, Saban has dominated with the Crimson Tide by building devastating defenses that are complemented by powerful offensive lines and staunch running attacks on the other side of the football. His teams completely control both sides of the trenches.
He always recruits the cream of the crop, as it relates to the nation’s top recruits and it clearly shows on the field. Unfortunately, such a luxury doesn’t exist for Saban in the NFL–where the draft and free agency rule instead.
Saban may also want total control of the roster as a head coach and general manager all-in-one package, which would be risky for Irsay and the Colts going forward.
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It doesn’t mean Saban can’t be successful at the NFL level–after all, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was certainly better his 2nd time around.
However, he’ll have to learn how to adapt and grow from his previous coaching experiences–because what cut it purely in college, simply won’t anymore at the professional level.
Saban could go down as the best college football head coach of all-time by the time it’s all said and done–but really has nothing else to prove at the collegiate level. Coaching Luck and the Colts could be tempting for Saban, but time will tell whether it’s enough to entice him to actually leave Tuscaloosa.