At Alabama, Saban better win or join the others in the scrap heap

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 4, 2007

January 4, 2006

OK, that’s it. It’s time to get out of this business, pursue a college coaching career and one day earn what Nick Saban is being paid.

I even approached the general manager of this newspaper with the ultimatum: Pay me on par with Saban or I am out of here.

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You can imagine which way he pointed.

To break it down, the highly successful football coach will make about $4 million per season over eight years guaranteed, with another $700,000 or so available in incentive clauses.

Going by a 40-hour work week, which he will surely never enjoy, Saban will make $333,333 a month. He’ll make about $77,000 a week.

(Insert long pause complete with gasp here.)

That number equates to about $11,000 a day. A DAY!

Alarm goes off at 5:30, at work by 6:30, take an hour or so for lunch, home in the early evening and boom – deposit $11,000 in the bank. Not a bad day.

Of course if one breaks it down further, Saban will make $458 an hour, or nearly $8 a minute.

For his money, though, he will have to deal with the insanity that is University of Alabama football. This is a school that had a coach win 10 games, sign a lucrative contract extension, stumble to six wins this season and was shown the door. Oh, and the Crimson Tide had been handcuffed with the final stage of an NCAA probation the fired coach didn’t cause.

Alabama is a school that lives and dies in its past glory, most of which came under coach Paul &#8220Bear” Bryant. To get to the football stadium that bears his name, one needs to travel down Bryant Drive, past the Bryant Conference Center, then the Bryant Museum until finally reaching Bryant-Denny Stadium. The statue in front of the new stadium entrance is of? You guessed it, Bear Bryant.

Fans of all ages wear Bear Bryant hats to ball games. Before the opening kickoff, the video board and speaker system ring out &#8220This is Alabama Football.” The Bear appears on a huge video board espousing coaching wisdom that few can understand as highlights of the Tide’s 13 national championships flash across the screen.

Many coaches have come after Bryant, who died in 1983 just months after coaching his final game, but few have stayed around long enough to taste his success. If it isn’t the Bear, it isn’t good enough for Alabama.

Gene Stallings won a national championship in the 1992 season and since then, Alabama has had a coach win SEC Coach of the Year honors only to be shown the door the next year and a coach who told his players that he would stick by them through probation and then bolted to Texas A&M. One coach never even saw the sidelines for a game after a visit to a Florida strip club. The last coach, the son of Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, made it through three whole seasons.

A pressure cooker will be awaiting Saban. If he wins, as he has done at his previous jobs, save the Miami Dolphins, he will be a hero.

Lose a couple seasons in a row and Saban will end up on the Crimson Tide scrap heap of former coaches – strategically located next door to the Bryant Conference Center.