Sports Outside the Beltway

If Nick Saban leaves Miami, is it deja vu all over again?

I’m betting that Nick Saban leaves Miami for Alabama. He wouldn’t be the first Saban to pack up and leave town early.

If Dolphins coach Nick Saban announces today that he is leaving, longtime fans of football in South Florida might experience a sense of déjà vu.

Almost exactly 28 years ago, on Jan. 5, 1979, another coach named Saban – Lou Saban, Nick’s cousin – met with the media to explain why he had bolted from the University of Miami.

Lou Saban also was an accomplished coach, having won two AFL titles with the Buffalo Bills in the 1960s. But he was a bit of a vagabond, too, at one point accepting nine jobs in less than three decades.

His decision to leave UM after the 1978 season was particularly baffling. He had a six-year contract and finished 3-8 and 6-5 in his first two rebuilding seasons.

Those were encouraging results for a struggling program, but Lou Saban nevertheless shocked his players and fans by opting to take over at Army.

“I thought I had done all I could do at Miami,” he said at the time.

Saban had been an Army officer, and he said West Point inspired him in a special way.

But he coached at Army just one season, finishing 2-8-1.

Unlike now, there were no rumors swirling or gaggles of sportswriters(and bloggers) talking about whether Lou Saban would leave or stay. I was 18 at the time and in the last year of high school. A local sportswriter wrote about Saban’s departure as if it meant death for the U of M program.

Less than five years later a Howard Schnellenberger led Hurricane squad would win the Orange Bowl and the national championship.

What the above Post article doesn’t delve into much is both Saban’s tendency to move on from job to job.

Take for instance Lou’s travels

1960-1961 Boston Patriots
1962-1965 Buffalo Bills
1967-1971 Denver Broncos
1972-1976 Buffalo Bills

77-78 U of Miami
79- Army
83-84 Central Florida

Before coaching in the NFL, Saban did stints as a head football coach at Northwestern and Western Illinois beginning in 1955.

I used Wikipedia to bring up the above. The online encyclopedia has its limitations. There is no mention of either Saban’s Army stint or his less than three week stay as Atheletic director at the U of Cinncinatti in 1977(Between Buffalo and Miami jobs).

Nick has worked at the following colleges or NFL teams before getting his first head coaching job- Syracuse University, West Virginia University, Ohio State, Navy, Houston Oilers and his alma mater of Kent State University.

Saban then spent one year at the University of Toledo as head football coach. 1990
Four years as a Cleveland Brown asst coach 1991-94, five years at Michigan State 95-99 and five years at LSU 2000-04.

That’s alot of moving around. A Palm Beach Post article says Saban may be feeling insecure about his job in Miami and has had these problems in the past.

A source who has spoken to Saban in recent days said his flirtation with Alabama stems from his fear that Huizenga might not want him for long if the Dolphins, 15-17 in the past two seasons, remain mediocre.

“He really thinks he’s going to get fired if he has another losing season,” the source said. “This was also a problem at Michigan State.”

Considering Alabama’s recent coaching history, will Nick feel all that secure in Tuscaloosa?

I don’t think Saban’s present decision is being driven by money but his preference for college coaching and perhaps worries about his future in Miami. Today looks like the day we’ll discover where Nick Saban will be coaching in 2007.

Cross posted at Poliblog’s Deportes

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Sabeen is a JERK. Every year, you wonder if he’ll be back the following year. I remember when he did it to Michigan State.

Posted by Mike | September 11, 2007 | 11:48 am | Permalink

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