Guerry Clegg commentary: Bama fans get welcome news

December 14, 2013 

The most anxiously anticipated news in the state of Alabama since Brent Musberger apologized to Katherine Webb broke at 9:27 p.m. Friday in the most official -- and, in this case, most appropriate -- form of modern media.

A Tweet.

Alabama Athletics, under the Twitter handle "@UA_Athletics," issued the announcement heard 'round the college football world:

"Nick Saban and The University of Alabama have concluded a long-term agreement to keep him as head coach of the Tide. More details to follow."

At that point, many Bama fans couldn't have cared less about the details to follow.

All that mattered was that Saban would remain their coach. Within 20 minutes, the announcement had 596 retweets and 158 "favorites."

That doesn't include all the Big 12 head football coaches that have to contend with Texas, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops in particular.

Yeah, Stoops has to deal with Saban and the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. But at least he won't have to face Saban on the recruiting trail for every five-star prospect choosing sides in the Red River Rivalry.

Eh, we knew all along that he was staying, didn't we? No way would Saban leave Alabama for a mere $10 million a year and a tiny portion of profits in the Longhorn Network.

He has another great recruiting class in the works. He has a statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Miss Terry loves Tuscaloosa. And most of all, he gave his word.

So what about that contract extension that had been sitting on his desk all week. There were all sorts of good explanations. He was too busy schmoozing a bunch of high school kids to worry about some mindless paper work.

The conspiracy theories and "reports" claiming inside information were churning out on both sides. Take your pick:

• While Mack Brown was fighting his ouster at Texas, Saban was waiting to assess his options.

Or …

• Saban's crafty agent Jimmy Sexton was playing both sides against the middle to force Alabama boosters to dig a little deeper into their cash reserves to keep the best coach in college football.

Who really knows? We're talking about college football in the state of Alabama here. You can't apply rational logic. We're talking about a state in which too many people value winning football games over life itself.

My gut? No real sources, just a hunch:

The threat of Saban leaving was real, and it was not merely a bluff. I don't care what he told his quarterback AJ McCarron or his closest friends or recruits.

You could say he doesn't need the money. Maybe not. But if the rumors of having some financial problems due to bad investments were true, then it's logical that he would have been smart to consider his options. It's also logical to assume that by signing the extension, if Saban did in fact need the money -- again, that itself is mere speculation -- then he no longer does.

Maybe the most sincere thing came from Saban came during the season.

"Quite frankly, I'm just too damn old to start over somewhere else."

Whatever, it's immaterial now. If he's not going to leave for Texas -- the New York Yankees of college football when it comes to deep pockets -- then chances are he will stay at Bama until he retires. One of the prevailing thoughts was that no matter what Alabama offered, the Crimson Tide could not out-bid Texas.

But they never had to. All the Tide had to do was ensure Saban that he'd never have to worry about money for the rest of his life.

So now Saban can get back on the recruiting trail and haul in another loaded signing class. Nothing has changed. The best coach in college football remains at the best program in college football in the best conference in college football. Everyone else is trying to catch up or keep up.

-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at sports@ledger-enquirer.com

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