Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Nick Saban Question

If you haven’t seen Ron Jaworski‘s comments on Nick Saban yet, here they are:

“I’m not a  Saban guy because I don’t like liars and I think he lied. I think he lied to the Miami Dolphins and the fans of Miami and he left. And I think it’s pretty simple — I think integrity is very important. If you don’t have integrity I don’t know how you can be successful. Yeah, I know he’s great at Alabama and he’ll probably win another national championship but I just don’t like people that don’t have integrity, so it’s pretty easy for me to say that I don’t want Nick Saban in town.”

Something tells me Jaws is not a fan of Nick Saban. And when it comes to the NFL fraternity, he is not alone. Doug Farrar examines this “serious perception problem” in a recent column for Yahoo!:

Former Dolphins tight end and broadcaster Jim Mandich put it more succinctly: “If Nick Saban walked through that door right now, I’d say, ‘Let’s go — let’s start throwing down.’ The biggest two-bit phony fraud I’ve ever known in my life. He was a miserable failure as a head coach in professional football.”

Saban had a real problem with the truth, and that’s what people remember of him in the NFL. He swore up and down that he didn’t want the Dolphins job when he was at LSU, and he swore up and down that he didn’t want the Alabama job when he was at Miami, though he was already negotiating with the Crimson Tide in the second year of his Dolphins tenure. He should probably avoid any more swearing up and down in future.

Saban’s name has been bounced around on the radio, in the bars and at the water cooler in recent days as the Eagles’ coaching search draws closer. It’s all part of the process where we ingest a name and let it rattle around in us for a little while to see how it sits. Some have spit it right out, citing the way that Saban up and left the Dolphins following the 2006 season for the Alabama job not long after stating that he would not be taking the Alabama job.

Others look at his national championships and Coach of the Year awards and can’t help but think of the possibilities if the 61-year-old Saban was truly committed to the mission.

My instinct is to side more with Jaws and go by the old thought that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

However, I do not believe that should prevent the Eagles from exploring the option. If Saban decides that winning national titles just doesn’t do it for him anymore and he would like to try his hand in the bigs again, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie should not just give him a look but a full-out inspection. A thorough vetting process can help lift some of the gray out of the picture and make it more clear who Saban is, what his intentions are, how willing he is to exist within the Eagles’ desired power structure and whether he is committed long-term.

Odds are, it wouldn’t be a fit. But who knows what an accomplished coach like Saban is thinking at this stage of his career. Maybe he is intent on changing the image that he created for himself on this level the last time around.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil takes a deeper look at the performance of Nick Foles.

How does Brandon Graham stack up against Jason Pierre-Paul? You might be surprised.

Catch all of the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

In case you missed it, Bill Barnwell of Grantland has chimed in on the Andy Reid era.

…there’s clearly too much good here for Reid to be seen as a failed head coach.5 He was the best coach the Eagles have had during the modern era of football by a fantastically wide margin, and both his longevity and his effectiveness suggest that he’s one of the best coaches of his generation. It’s also foolish to believe that he’s done. If he wants to come back to coaching (and reports say that he does), he would be at the top of the list for many of the league’s coach-needy teams. There’s a track record of guys who fizzled out after a long run with one team immediately succeeding elsewhere, too. John Fox followed a 2-14 year with the Panthers by going to Denver and winning two consecutive AFC West titles. Tom Coughlin peaked at 12-4 and had three years of below-average football before being let go by the Jaguars, but when he caught on with the Giants, he had them in the playoffs in two years. It may take another chance with another team for people to realize just how valuable Reid is as a head coach. And it may take an inferior new head coach in Philadelphia for Eagles fans to realize how lucky they were to have Andy Reid all these years.

Ray Didinger offered these thoughts on Thursday night games after watching the Eagles and Bengals:

Simply put, the NFL’s Thursday night product stinks.
It almost doesn’t matter which teams are playing. It could be a clueless bunch like the Eagles or it could be a playoff contender like Pittsburgh or Atlanta. It all looks the same — sloppy and uninspired.
This is not a coincidence. Pro football is not a sport meant to be played on an NBA schedule. It is unrealistic to expect an NFL player to get himself ready to play and a coach to get his team ready to play when they have just three days between games.

COMING UP

The Eagles get to sit  back and watch as the rest of the league plays. They will have a light practice Monday morning.