Nick Saban was in Connecticut on Thursday, taking part in a day-long cycle of talk shows that ESPN calls its “Car Wash,” possibly because “Spa Day” would make it sound like the interviews would be conducted by a masseuse named Sven or, worse, Saban would have to field questions from Stephen A. Smith while in a hot tub with Smith controlling the temperature. (“What about the transfer portal?!?!?” is an entirely different question when the water hits 130 degrees.)
For the most part, Saban did what he usually does on his free day of national publicity. He told some stories, most of which, if not all, were old gifts in new packages. He did a lot of recruiting, some of it subliminal, some of it less so. This column has declared a moratorium on discussing the relative value of last year’s opponent but Saban took enough responsibility and sprinkled it with enough praise to keep the winners of last year’s playoff happy for a day, or at least to avoid yet another serving of rehashed SEC Media Days hash.
But as he wound up the day on “College Football Live” with Maria Taylor and Joey Galloway, Saban closed with exactly what Alabama fans (and perhaps a recruit or two out there) wanted to hear as we asked what he would do after he was “finished” with coaching. It’s a fair question, one Saban fields occasionally, but his answer was immediate.
“I know what I won’t be doing,” Saban said. “It’s not sitting at home. I lasted six hours after my surgery.
“When you get in a leadership position for a long time, it would be kind of hard to work for somebody else. So, maybe it’s somewhere in business or something, I don’t know. But I’ve got a lot of years left doing this.”
Whether “a lot” is five or 10, it certainly sounds like more than one or two. Partly, as Saban explained about his entry into coaching 47 years ago, it’s because he still enjoys it — even though he never expected that he would.
“I never wanted to be a coach when I graduated college,” he said in an interview with Will Cain. “I always wanted to be a general manager of a car dealership.
“Don James asked me to be a graduate assistant. I said, ‘I don’t want to go to graduate school, and I don’t want to be a coach, so why would I do either one of those?’ He talked me into it and said, ‘Your wife’s got another year of school. You can’t really take a job. You can’t really go anywhere else.’ So I did it. I loved it. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Still, some people flinch every time Saban mentions doing something else. On Thursday, he was asked about joining the College Gameday crew at ESPN one day. His answer had the same tone as when he says he likes tearing around Lake Burton on his jet ski — a diversion, not a career choice. But judge for yourselves.
“I’ve done (Gameday) a couple of times, and I actually did enjoy it, I liked it,” he said. “It was a little bit like being a part of a team. And I think that I really enjoyed the opportunity to be able to express some technical aspects of the game to the fans that may enhance their interest to some degree. And it’s a really good bunch of guys on GameDay that I really, really enjoy being around.”
Saban is an outstanding analyst, which doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to sit outside in Ames, Iowa, in November waiting on a production assistant to bring some coffee to the set. And from the way things sounded on Thursday, he’s perfectly happy where he is.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt