Though these rumors have been adamantly denied by most close to the situation, that doesn't mean much, considering recent history. These rumors hanging over the organization could be the difference in what should be a close BCS Championship Game.
Saban has bounced around the NFL and college football for years. He started at Michigan State, and after denying rumors of a move to LSU, he then moved to LSU.
Then, after denying rumors regarding a move to the NFL, Saban was hired by the Miami Dolphins. He then claimed he was not interested in the Alabama job. He was hired shortly after.
Sensing a pattern here?
Saban has been saying all the right things so far. He has recommitted to the Crimson Tide, claiming to be too old to keep moving from job to job. To be sure, staying with a perennial championship contender and recruiting powerhouse like Alabama would have to be appealing to anyone.
Still, Cole makes a very important point about Saban's character that points that a change is coming. Saban had never stayed at a job longer than five years until his current stint in Tuscaloosa.
There is no challenge in coaching the Crimson Tide anymore. They are one of the premier programs in the nation, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon. The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, are a major challenge. That would have to appeal to Saban.
These rumors have been quiet so far, but expect them to pick up as we get closer to the big game. The question then will be whether or not the team will be affected.
Alabama is a mentally tough team, but they haven't faced any real distraction in some time. In a game that could come down to a few points, the Tide need every advantage they can have.
As good as this team is, a distracted Alabama team probably can't beat a focused and hungry Notre Dame.
If Saban has some proof that he's committed to the team, now is the time to show it. Otherwise, he could cost his team a championship.