Nick Saban, basking in the glow of winning his third National Championship in three years and not sleeping very much Monday night, spent part of Tuesday discussing the possibility of returning to the NFL.
He's not doing it. His time with the Dolphins was apparently so terrible that it crystalized Saban's thinking about staying in college.
"I came to the Miami Dolphins, what, eight years ago, for the best owner, the best person that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for,” Saban said, referring to Wayne Huizenga, who owned the Dolphins when Saban was coach and hired him away from LSU where Saban won another national title.
"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 am able to in college. 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 said that taught him a lesson.
“I kind of learned from that experience that maybe [college] is where I belonged," he said. "And I’m really happy and at peace with all of that.”
There have been rumors Saban might be interested in one of the current NFL head coach vacancies because he's accomplished plenty at Alabama and wants to prove himself in the pro game. Well, Saban delivered an "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" moment in speaking of that potential jump.
“How many times do you think that I’ve been asked to put it to rest? And I’ve put it to rest. And you continue to ask it,” he said of the NFL rumors. “So I’m going to say it today that, I think somewhere along the line you've got to choose ... you learn lot from the experiences of what you’ve done in the past."
Saban acknowledges that his time with the Dolphins was not a good one. He was frustrated, particularly in his second year, with the way the NFL allows teams to be built. There's the draft rather than an open recruiting field.
Saban desperately wanted Haloti Ngata in the draft his second year and tried to trade up to get him, but didn't have the ammo to do so. He had to settle for Jason Allen.
And the salary cap puts limits on a roster that the recruiting limit in college does not.
“People say you can draft a player you want to draft," Saban said. "You can draft a player that's there when you pick. It might not be the player you need. It might not be the player that you want. You also have salary-cap issues. We had them here."
Of course, all those limits didn't keep Saban from signing Drew Brees instead of giving up a second-round pick for Daunte Culpepper. He screwed that up all by himself.
“You’ve got to have a quarterback," Saban said. "We had a chance to get one here -- sort of messed it up.
"So I didn’t feel like I could impact the team the same way that I can as a college coach in terms of affecting people's life personally, helping them develop careers by helping them develop careers by graduating from school. There's a lot of self-gratification in all that."
That's interesting. Saban has spent a long time blaming Huizenga or the medical staff or the weather for his choice of Culpepper over Brees. At least now he's including himself in the list of folks who messed up the decision.
Sort of, as he said.