Not a dolphin, a snake
I'll be the first to admit I was wrong about Nick Saban.
I didn't think there was a chance in the world he'd leave the Dolphins for Alabama.
I laughed at Alabama for its persistent, and what I thought hopeless, pursuit of Saban.
I couldn't imagine Saban, after only 2 years at what we were all lead to believe was his ideal NFL job total control, beautiful South Florida, no ownership meddling, proud franchise, $4 million dollar salary I couldn't imagine him leaving all that for a worse job in the same conference he just left. I couldn't imagine him going to a program with the most insane, delusional, irrational fans in a league of insane, delusional, irrational fans or going to a program with a history of NCAA violations and nosy boosters and trustees. I couldn't imagine him leaving a job he repeatedly said he was committed to, a job he hadn't come close to finishing.
I couldn't imagine it.
But where I went wrong, what I didn't count on is that Nick Saban is a low down, dirty, rotten, skunk who'll lie through his teeth and abandon people who put faith in him and that he's a snake and a liar and a quitter and a coward.
That I didn't count on.
That is where my read on this story went so wrong.
I thought Saban had character. I thought he had integrity. I knew he was ambitious. I know he has a wandering eye and is incredibly susceptible to flattery and I know that he and his agent love to have their names in the paper, but I didn't count on him being an out right, low down, dirty liar.
In late December, Saban said, unequivocally, he would not be the coach at Alabama.
He didn't say, "I don't plan to be the coach at Alabama." He didn't say, "I haven't spoken to anyone at Alabama." He didn't say, "I'm not interested in Alabama." He said "I'm not going to be the coach at Alabama."
He reiterated that point frequently. He made a point to drive it home. He made a fool out of all of us who believed his word meant anything.
Before I go any further, let me just say this is an absolute home run hire for Alabama. I fully expect Saban to win a national championship if he's in Tuscaloosa for any length of time. He'll do for Bama what Bob Stoops did for Oklahoma or what Mack Brown did for Texas bring a shine back to a legendary program on the skids.
I believe still that Nick Saban is the best coach in football. College, pro, high school, wherever, all things being equal, I think Saban is the top guy in the business, so clearly Alabama fans should be on cloud nine. For the rest of the SEC, this is the Doomsday scenario. To a conference of Tuberville, Spurrier, Meyer, Fulmer, Richt, Miles and Nutt, Saban is added. The SEC gets tougher and tougher and more and more difficult to win every single year. The quality of coaches in this conference goes to show how committed these schools are to excellence on the field.
If you want to know how good a coach is, don't listen to the fans of the team he's going to, listen to the fans of the teams he'll play against. Auburn fans wanted Mike Shula to coach another 10 years in Tuscaloosa. Florida State fans wanted Ron Zook to retire a Gator. Your opponents will tell you how good your coach is because they will beg you to keep the wrong guy and unmercifully attack someone that regularly beats them down.
At the news of Saban going to Alabama, Auburn fans and Tennessee fans and LSU fans and Arkansas fans were crestfallen, and they should be, because they know there is no longer a clown in charge of the Tide's football program and these five in a row or nine out of ten winning streaks that have been racked up over Alabama are now a thing of the past.
Nick Saban, like Urban Meyer, like Pete Carroll, like Jim Tressel, he not only makes the fans of the team he coaches feel better, he makes the fans of the teams he coaches against feel worse.
Because I am an honest man I can say that. I can call Nick Saban a snake and a liar and a coward and a quitter and also the best coach in football because my word does mean something. I take seriously that people take seriously what I say.
Not only did Nick Saban lie through his teeth to Dolphin fans, his assistant coaches and an owner that spent millions of dollars compensating him for a job barely adequately done, he didn't have the guts to face his team or assistant coaches face-to-face to tell them his decision.
Saban broke the news to his assembled coaches via speakerphone and said nothing to his players.
Dolphin fans? Screw you guys, Nick Saban doesn't think enough of you to believe you deserve an answer.
That makes Nick Saban a coward.
Nick Saban didn't have the sack to tell his assistant coaches who he'd spent 20 hour days with or players he'd driven through two-a-days in 90 degree heat and humidity or fans who spent large percentages of their disposable income on season tickets that he was leaving.
Nick Saban slunk away like a thief in the night. Like the Colts pulling out of Baltimore in the middle of the night with no warning whatsoever. Like a corporate CEO selling all his stock high on the eve of bad news about an accounting scandal.
Nick Saban is a liar for telling us he wouldn't coach Alabama and he's a coward for not having the nerve to tell his coaches or players or fans face-to-face.
Nick Saban is also a quitter because he was hired to do a job and he didn't come close to finishing it. Nick Satan inherited an also-ran AFC team with an aging defense, a bad offensive line, an overall lack of talent and a complete mess at quarterback and after two years that's exactly what he leaves behind.
Nick Satan quit. The going got tough and Nick threw in the towel. Satan looked at his old defense, a huge mistake at quarterback in Daunte Culpepper that he may never live down, a tough conference around him and tapped out after two short seasons.
Nick Satan was born in West Virginia. Near the coal mines. He coached all over Ohio, around factory workers. If there's one thing the people of the Midwest have it's a work ethic. It's an ethic that says, "I don't care how cold it is today; I don't care how bad my back hurts; I don't care how many sick days I get, I'm going in to work today because I have a job to do."
Where Nick Satan learned to be a quitter, I don't know, but he is.
Where I come from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that same Midwest - when men say they're going to do a job, they stay on to do the job until it's finished. I'm going to get real real with you here right now. I produce Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio. I've produced the show since its debut on the network and I poured my heart and soul into that thing. It sucked when it started. Colin didn't know what he was doing. I didn't know how to work with him. We'd only met the day before. The network didn't know how to support him. But I vowed to see that show become the best, most listened to most influential sports talk show in the country and just shy of three years in now, we're essentially there. However, 18 months ago, I was offered a job in Memphis, Tennessee to run a station there. I love Memphis. I love the South. I can't stand Connecticut. I would've gotten a pay raise, it would have been a more prestigious position and I would have been in charge 100% - but you know what, I didn't take it. And you know why? I didn't take it because at that time, my job wasn't finished here. I hadn't done what I said I was going to do. I knew I was close; I knew it would only take another six months or so with Colin to get to where I promised I would help him go, but I hadn't finished the job, so I stayed. I have character. I can use words like loyalty and commitment because I live by them. Nick Satan can not.
There's no embarrassment in failure. Maybe Nick Satan wouldn't have ever gotten the Dolphins to the Super Bowl. There's no embarrassment in being fired. I've been fired, most of you have been fired, Bill Belichick was fired, Pete Carroll was fired, good people are fired every day.
There is tremendous shame however in quitting a job early that you didn't get done, quitting that job when you found the going tough and quitting that job by sneaking out the back door without telling anyone in the face you were leaving. There is shame in leaving a place in a worse position than you found it. There is shame in preaching to people about loyalty and commitment and then leaving them in the lurch at the first chance you have to bail. Nick Satan is a liar. He is a coward. He is a quitter.
He is a liar and a coward and a quitter and maybe by being all of those things, that will put him in good standing with Alabama fans because I lived in Alabama for 10 years and I've never met a bigger group of narrow-minded, ignorant, boastful, obnoxious jerks in my life.
I'm painting with a broad brush here and I have every intention to. I've met dozens of Bama fans and alumni and the honest, decent, moral, trustworthy ones I could probably count on one hand.
Ask yourself this, after all his vehement public denials, how did Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore and the Tide cronies know Satan could still be lured to the Capstone?
They knew because it takes one to know one. It takes a liar to know when another liar is lying and from the generally low level of dignity that Alabama fans have, they must have been able to see in Satan one of their own. A guy who'd turn his back on people he'd made a commitment to, a guy whose word meant nothing.
Remember the old Roddy Piper sci-fi movie, "They Live"? It was about aliens living amongst humans secretly plotting the overthrow of the human race. The aliens looked and walked and talked just like us people we couldn't tell who they were - , but by wearing a special pair of sunglasses, the aliens appeared grotesque and disfigured and the "Rowdy Scot" stumbled upon these glasses, was able to identify the aliens and ended up bringing their attempted insurrection down.
Apparently Mal Moore and all the Bammers have these glasses as well because they looked right at Nick Satan, they saw him say emphatically that he would not coach Alabama, and they went right ahead and pursued him nonetheless and got their man.
I don't have the glasses. I didn't see that. I saw a man who I thought had integrity say he wouldn't coach Alabama and I believed him.
I was wrong. Nick Satan will coach Alabama.
This, however, I'm not wrong on: Nick Saban is a liar. Nick Saban is a coward. Nick Saban is a quitter. Nick Saban is all of those things and he couldn't be rewarded with a more likeminded group of fans than the one he's about to inherit in Tuscaloosa.