"Could Kirby do the job and would he be a great fit? Yes, of course. We believe that. We think that. He would be a great fit here and would be able to fit right in." This quote is from Terry Saban, wife of Alabama coach Nick Saban, in an interview with ESPN 973 The Zone in Birmingham last week.
Nick Saban is well established these days as the most powerful, if not the most accomplished, head coach in college football. Of course among the drawbacks to his success are the constant rumors and speculation that he is looking forward to his next challenge.
The most recent rumor making the rounds is that of Saban being possibly sought after by the Cleveland Browns in a deal that could potentially even include an share in the ownership of the franchise.
Comments made by "Miss Terry," as Saban often calls his wife, have only added fuel to the fire that is currently engulfing the social media world.
So what does the quote above mean?
If taken at its face value, it likely means that the Sabans have so much confidence in defensive coordinator Kirby Smart that whey would be willing to recommend him for the head job at Alabama if it were to open.
On the other hand, it could mean that they already have him in mind as a likely replacement for Saban should he be looking for his next challenge after the season. Are you a skeptic? Like beauty, truth is in they eye of the beholder.
"A victory does not feel quite as happy, as joyous. It's just relief and let's get ready for the next game. And that's unfortunate...The expectations are at the point now that everyone expects you to win and expects you to win it all," said Terry Saban, in the same interview, as reported by Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com.
This comment can be taken a few different ways as well, depending on what you are looking for.
The optimist would say that Miss Terry is making a passing comment on the expectations that have been reaching new heights as a result of what the coach has been able to accomplish at Alabama.
The pessimist may take this to mean that winning for Saban has become such a routine that he could be getting a little bored with the ease in which his team finds success and he needs a new, more difficult challenge.
With a win in the BCS title game over Notre Dame next month he will, after all, have won three national titles in just four years. And don't forget the one he picked up as head coach at LSU not too long ago either.
Saban is fueled by his dedication to greatness and his commitment to seeking and overcoming challenges. Maybe winning at Alabama has become just a bit too easy.
"We're very comfortable here. We love it here. It's a great fit for our family. It's a good fit for me. As far as we're concerned, this is where we'll retire someday. As far as jobs go, this is it for us. I don't mean to be presumptuous. I would have to talk this over with Nick, but as far as I'm concerned, this is it," she said.
This quote is quite interesting.
The Sabans also claimed to love Miami when he was working for the Dolphins organization and didn't have plans to leave there either just days before picking up and moving to Tuscaloosa.
Again, it seems like an innocent and believable statement upon first glance. But is it?
What would there possibly be to talk over with Nick if the couple was indeed planning on staying at Alabama for the long haul? If nothing else, it is a question worth asking.
Personally, I do not believe that Saban is going anywhere and I do believe the coach and his wife when they say that this is their last stop. There are, after all, many good reasons for them to stay.
I heard a radio host say earlier this week that Saban was "59 going on 48" in reference to his age (he's actually 61). It is very reasonable to assume that Saban has another 10-15 years of coaching left in him if he chooses to do so.
With that much time left, a run at legendary Alabama coach "Bear" Bryant's six national titles would almost be a given based on the level at which the Tide is playing these days. That's quite appealing—and quite a challenge.
Saban also has the Tide program under such control that "rebuilding" and "reloading" years are practically a thing of the past. In other words, the hard part at Alabama is already in the rear-view mirror.
Financially, the NFL may be able to offer up more cash, but how much does he really desire? Furthermore, Alabama would surely make every effort to match any reasonable offers Saban may see and would happily do so.
Again, though, there is the pessimistic side. And the pessimist makes a solid argument as well.
First of all, would a coach who loves to challenge himself not want to take his skills to Cleveland? Wouldn't taking the Browns to their first Super Bowl be the greatest achievement of all? It does sound like something that would pique Saban's interests.
Secondly, there really aren't a whole lot of expectations in Cleveland. On top of that, the NFL has playoffs. A six-loss team has a heck of a shot in the NFL. Much of the pressure that Saban deals with at Alabama would virtually disappear.
What is your best guess on Saban's future plans?
Finally, possible ownership in an NFL franchise is a huge bargaining chip. At the rate in which these organizations add value behind the brand name of the NFL, this would be a financial no-brainer for the Saban family.
In the end, though, all of this is speculation. Saban will not comment on this until after the BCS title game, either, so all we can do is wait.
You have heard all the reasons he should stay and all the reasons he should go before. You will most definitely hear them again.
This is the price you pay for having the sport's most valued coaching commodity.
Like I said earlier, I think Saban will stay.
I think he likes coaching and challenging kids more than he does spoiled and pampered professional athletes.
I think he values the pageantry and passion that comes with the college game.
I think he desires to be known as "the" Alabama football coach rather than as a vagabond who may have won a lot but did so at a half a dozen different locations.
I think. And I hope.