Dec. 15, 2004
By Brian Curtis
Senior Editor, CSTV
NEW YORK, NY -- As I first reported on CSTV's Crystal Ball in early November and here on November 11th, LSU head football coach Nick Saban has serious interest in the vacant coaching position with the Miami Dolphins. Saban has confirmed that he met with Dolphins officials yesterday and that he made LSU aware of the meeting. So is he going?
In two weeks, How Good Do You Want To Be?, will be released by Random House, a book I co-wrote with Nick this summer. It is part biography, part philosophy, and part life lessons. Over the past year, I've gotten to know Nick and his family, and come to understand a little about what makes him tick. His devotion to football is admirable, though at times it seems crazy. There are never enough hours in the day for Nick, and not nearly enough days in a year. Do I know what he'll do next? No. Do I know some of the issues he's probably thinking about? Read on ...
Why Would He Go to Miami?
1) There is little more he can accomplish at LSU. He came to Baton Rouge from Michigan State and has led the Tigers to multiple conference championships and last year's BCS national championship. This year's team, supposedly "rebuilding", went 9-2 with losses to Auburn and Georgia and is headed to a New Year's Day bowl against Iowa. The only thing he hasn't done is gone undefeated, though last year's champs went 13-1. He has taken LSU to new heights and there is little left to prove.
2) The allure of the NFL has always tugged at Nick. He was a successful defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick in the early 1990s, and has had an eye on the pros ever since. He enjoys coaching college ball and is good at it; it's just that it's not the NFL. He has been tempted to make the jump in recent years (including last year with the Chicago Bears) but now the pull may be too much. He wants the challenge of being a head coach in the pros.
3) Nick is a great recruiter, as evidenced by his nationally-ranked recruiting classes, but at the pro level, all he has to do is coach football. He spends hours breaking down film and game planning--that's what he loves to do.
4) Let's face it, the money is great. Yes, he makes over $2 million a year at LSU, but the Dolphins could offer him more. And Miami is a great place to live.
5) The Dolphins would give him the power he would want. He would have a big say in personnel decisions and all coaching matters, something many NFL head coaches don't have. Other than having to face his best friend, New England Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick, twice each season, Miami is the perfect fit.
Why Would He Stay?
1) It's not just about money with Nick. There are things more important. He enjoys coaching at LSU. He loves the community, he loves the University and he takes pride in helping young men get a degree or be successful in the NFL.
2) He is God-like in Louisiana. Trust me, I have spent a great deal of time down there. He is worshipped throughout the state and is the biggest fish in the Bayou. That's certainly an ego push. He would be risking a lot by going to Miami, where there is no guarantee he will be successful.
3) LSU will be good next year. They will be good on defense and better on offense and have another great class of freshmen coming in.
4) Nick told me that it was tough moving from East Lansing to Baton Rouge because it meant disrupting his two children's schooling and social life, and did not want to do it again. His oldest son is college-age now, but his daughter is just a teenager and he doesn't want to uproot her again.
5) Even if Nick gets a great deal of decision-making power with Miami, the NFL is still a business. He detested the fact that when he was a coordinator in Cleveland, he would often have to play players because of their contracts, not because they could add something. It ate at him.
So what is he going to do? Stay tuned. I honestly believe that Nick doesn't even know today. I do know that he is driven towards success and will agonize over this one in the coming days.
Brian Curtis serves as an analyst and insider in all of CSTV's football programming and is CSTV's Senior Editor. To ask Brian a question or comment on his column, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read Brian's latest insiders' book, Every Week A Season, on sale now at all major bookstores and online.
Read Brian's Last Column: My Night at the Heisman
Nick Saban would be leaving a great situation in Louisiana.