Scooter Hobbs column: Saban likes control, give it to him
Published 12:22 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024
What if a coach, like say, Nick Saban, was to become available on the coaching market?
Do you think every college team in the country would be lining up trying to hire him to fix whatever ails their school’s varsity.
OK, so it turns out Saban himself, the GOAT, is available after retiring from Alabama. You probably heard about it.
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But let’s the turn the tables here.
What if Saban could work for every school in the NCAA and fix college football en masse.
Don’t put it past him.
Remember, he said he was retiring from coaching, not giving up work. Not surprisingly, he also said he’ll get itchy feet before too long or maybe Ms. Terry decides she didn’t sign up for him being home for lunch and, well, daytime TV probably doesn’t wiggle his competitive streak much.
He’ll have to do something. Nobody foresees an idle retirement.
Oh, he likes golf and, if he puts his mind to it and gets the “process” on the case, he would probably solve the riddle of that screwy game and win the U.S. Senior Amateur in a year or so.
Broadcasting, of course, would be an option. He’d be a natural, they say. But he’s got far too much to offer the game to waste it on television.
Yes, he’s still got an office in the Alabama football complex. What he’s doing in it I would guess is open to interpretation — probably whatever he wants — and you wonder what new Tide head coach Kalen DeBoer thinks about that arrangement, that pair of eyes looking over his shoulder as he tries to put his own mark on Bama.
How would you like to be DeBoer and have to pass Saban in the hallway Monday morning after a tough or embarrassing Saturday loss?
Full disclosure: I’m certainly not the first to come up with this notion. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea.
What college football and, by association, America, needs is Commissioner Saban or President Saban or czar … whatever you want to call it.
But let’s put him in charge of game gone haywire.
They would have to create a position that does not currently exist but is sorely needed.
Understand, we’re not talking about him being NCAA president. That post seems to be becoming powerless. Meanwhile, football is becoming more and more almost separate from the bloated NCAA anyway.
All of this conference reshuffling — do you think they gave one iota of thought to lacrosse and swimming, even baseball, softball and basketball, when the Big Ten was swallowing up big gulps of the Pac-12 for regular cross-country non-revenue trips?
No. Maybe football has outgrown the NCAA and needs to be a different entity.
And it needs to be fixed pronto.
To do it, it needs somebody strong in charge. Somebody with vision.
Sound like anybody you know? And he’s available.
My guess is that Saban would take the job. It would be too tempting to turn down.
In news conferences, Saban was never much different than most coaches if you were picking his brain for an opinion on, say, stopping Tennessee’s pass rush this week. He could coach-speak with the best of them.
But bring up a real college football issue and you’d not only get his respect, you’d get — right off the top of his head — common sense, sanity, reason, foresight, all of it wrapped up in bow of logic.
All of that is something college football is sorely lacking these days.
Some have said the biggest issues — the near-unlimited transfer portal and name, image and likeness riches for the athletes — all of it with murky guidelines, none of it with any guard rails, is what drove Saban to retirement.
Maybe that was a part of it. But if Saban had one coaching strength — granted there were many — it was his ability to adapt, to evolve with the game’s changes.
He’d have eventually figured it out.
Might as well let him do it for all of college football.
One thing he surely knows is that what the game is doing right now is not sustainable. My guess is that he already has some ideas.
And when he speaks, people listen.
Let him fix this mess — and when he does, his seven national championships might be a footnote to his real legacy.
You wouldn’t have to put it in the contract to give him complete control. He’d take his full control and give you change back.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com