Astonishingly, six years later Saban is still being asked about how he left the Dolphins and is still, in effect, asking forgiveness.
The biggest [regret] was probably not handling the way I left very well. Thats always been a thing with me Ive never ever really felt good about, Saban admitted the other day, on 790 The Ticket.
We all make mistakes. I dont feel good about it, and Ill probably never feel good about it.
That was awfully touchy-feely for Saban, 61, whose public persona is that of a cold, unsmiling man along the taciturn lines of his mentor, Bill Belichick.
I suspect Nick, far from dumb, was being calculating, playing South Florida the way he plays recruits and their moms in living rooms presenting himself at his best and most likable.
In any case, lets call a moratorium on the mea culpas and move on. Saban shouldnt have to continue to explain six years ago any more than we should keep picking at old scabs.
For the record, I think Saban would have been successful here and turned the Dolphins around had he stuck it out. He might still make a good NFL coach some day, if unrelenting rumors have any basis.
In any case its his career and life, not ours, and not even the most stubbornly bitter Dolfan could claim Sabans decision hasnt been justified.
A win Monday night making it three national championships in four years would give Sabans Tide the first true dynasty in college football in the BCS era, since 1999, and maybe since Nebraska in the earlier 90s. Notre Dames Frank Leahy in the 1940s was the previous coach to bunch three outright titles within four seasons. And Saban has done this coming out of the mighty Southeastern Conference, remember, the best and deepest league in the sport.
Another championship would be Sabans fourth in 10 seasons (he won at LSU in 2003), and no coach in more than a half-century has done that, not even Bamas legendary Bear Bryant. Saban will never be Bryant in Tuscaloosa, but he has earned his way into that good company now. Saban already is the only coach in The Associated Press poll era (since 1936) to win national championships at two different schools.
Saban does this with superior recruiting so superior that eight of his underclassmen have left early for the NFL draft, all first-rounders, four of them top 10 picks, and yet his Tide keeps rolling, the cupboards always fully stocked.
Saban does this with attention to detail, too, and with a blinders-on focus to the task ahead.
He shows his team a video of Michael Jordan talking about making game-winning shots. From that, Saban extrapolates this point, as he said upon arrival Wednesday:
The only [shot] that matters is the one hes about to take, Saban tells his players. Thats the whole deal. Can you focus on that next shot?
Saban is good enough that his protégés include current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and Floridas Will Muschamp, both from his staff at LSU.
None less than the great Bobby Bowden calls Saban the coach as good as anybody theres ever been.
Alabama raised Sabans salary to $5.62 million before this season and extended his contract through 2020. At the announcement the coach said the extension represents our commitment to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career.
It is hard to envision hed ever leave his Tuscaloosa kingdom for another college job, but the NFL rumors dont quit. He was Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator under Belichick in 1991-94. The two years in Miami indicated an unfulfilled appetite for the pros, perhaps. Well, the Cleveland job just came open. Speculation, anyone?
I dont know where all this stuff comes from, Saban said of the NFL talk. Its to the point now that anything you say about this, nobody believes.
Plenty of Dolfans might snicker at that and say Sabans past lies have invited that lack of belief in what he says.
Six years is a long time, though.
It is enough time for a coach to stand a few days from minting a dynasty, and putting himself on the path to being judged among the best ever in his sport.
It should also be enough time to move on, Miami to step back from the petty hate and appreciate something pretty great.