Former Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban is on top of the football world, with his Alabama Crimson Tide wrapping up their third BCS national championship in four years Monday night with a 42-14 beatdown of formerly top-ranked Notre Dame.
On Tuesday, during his post-championship press conference, Saban was asked to reflect on the job he left to lead the Crimson Tide.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Saban does not have great memories of his time in South Florida (not that Dolfans look back with any fondness for his two-year stint in Miami, when the Dolphins went 15-17, including 4-8 against AFC East opponents).
"In the two years that I was here I had a very, very difficult time thinking that I could impact the organization in the way that I wanted to or in the way that I was able to in college," he said. "And it was very difficult for me. Because there is a lot of parity in the NFL. There's a lot of rules in the NFL."
Saban has a huge recruiting advantage at Alabama, where recruits can play in the strongest conference in college football, use top-notch facilities, and catch the eye of pro scouts if they play well. Fielding a pro team, subject to the constraints of the draft and intense competition for free agents, is not nearly as easy.
"You can draft a player that is there when you pick. It might not be the player you need. It might not be the player that you want," he added. "You have salary-cap issues. We had them [with the Dolphins]."
Not to mention the folly of passing up on QB Drew Brees (who would go on to multiple Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl win with the New Orleans Saints) in favor of Daunte Culpepper (who made just four starts for the Dolphins before the team released him).
"I kind of learned from that experience that maybe this is where I belonged," Saban concluded. "And I'm really happy and at peace with all of that."
Dolphins fans are still upset with the way Saban left the team, and these comments will do nothing to assuage their hurt feelings (not that Saban particularly cares about those feelings, most likely). It has been six years since Saban bolted for Alabama, and he made it clear Tuesday that he left not just because Alabama offered him a huge pay raise, but also because he no longer felt up to the task of winning a Super Bowl.
Saban added that he has no desire for a second chance at the NFL, and chafed when reporters even dared to ask him about jumping back to the pros. "How many times do you think that I've been asked to put it to rest?" he said.
"And I've put it to rest. And you continue to ask it." And really, why wouldn't journalists take the word of a man who accepted the head coaching job at Alabama only a few weeks after saying "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" at a Dolphins press conference?
"No matter how many times I say that, you all don't believe me," he lamented. "So I don't even know why I keep talking about it."
He may have learned that the NFL is not for him, but Saban still has yet to realize that you cannot get caught in a lie as enormous as that and ever win back the trust of fans or the media.