Nick Saban Signs New $7 Million Contract at Alabama

Weeks of speculation that Texas would fire Mack Brown and hire Nack Saban were put to an end yesterday evening.


Weeks of speculation that Texas would fire Mack Brown and hire Nack Saban were put to an end yesterday evening.

Cecil Hurt and Aaron Suttles report for the Tuscaloosa News (“Alabama’s Nick Saban gets raise, contract extension“):

Nick Saban is staying at the University of Alabama, just like he said all along.

Saban reached an agreement Friday that is expected to raise his salary to between $7 million and $7.5 million per year from its current annual compensation of almost $5.4 million and extend his term as head football coach of the Crimson Tide, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.

“We are very pleased to have this agreement completed,” Saban said in a statement released Friday night by UA. “(Wife) Terry and our family are very happy in Tuscaloosa. It has become home to us. This agreement allows us to continue to build on the tremendous success that we have enjoyed to this point — successes that have transcended the football field. We are excited about the future and the University of Alabama is where I plan to end my coaching career.

“We are committed to continuing the work that we have been doing in the community as well as at the university. We are also excited about the opportunity awaiting us on Jan. 2 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the University of Oklahoma and hope to send this year’s tremendous senior class out in the proper way.”

The agreement ends speculation that intensified in recent days that Saban might emerge as a candidate at Texas after reports that Mack Brown would step down after 16 years. Brown is still head coach at Texas and was at the team’s banquet Friday night.

UA athletic director Bill Battle began the process to reach a new deal with Saban sometime before the Nov. 30 Iron Bowl, where then-No. 1 Alabama fell out of the national championship race with a loss to rival Auburn.

“Coach Saban is the best in the business and has led our program to the pinnacle of college football. This agreement is a strong indication of our mutual commitment to building on the foundation he has established,” Battle said in a statement.’s Kevin Scarbinsky argues (“New deal means Nick Saban and Alabama both got what they wanted“) that the astronomical salary increase was absolutely warranted:

If you got upset with Nick Saban in the last week, if you wondered why he let the Texas speculation linger and waited until Friday to agree to a new deal with Alabama, you should know one thing.

He never stopped doing his job for Alabama.

Other coaches from other schools would leave the recruiting road to spend a day or so in their offices, catching up on paperwork and other business.

Not Saban. Starting Monday, first thing every morning he’d head to the airport to go recruiting, and he wouldn’t get home till that night. One night, he didn’t return until well after midnight.

It was another example that the best coach in the business is different. He wasn’t sitting in his office the last five days staring at a proposed new contract from Alabama for two reasons.

He wasn’t sitting in his office, and there was no proposed new contract from Alabama sitting on his desk. There were discussions between the school and the coach’s camp toward that end.

Not to mention, Texas wasn’t an issue for Saban because the Longhorns didn’t have an opening at the head coaching position – and still don’t. As of late Friday night, after getting through the annual team banquet and giving no indication of quitting, Mack Brown was still on the job in Austin.

As was Saban in Tuscaloosa. As Saban likely will be as long as he chooses to coach thanks to his new deal with Alabama.

Why did Saban and Alabama get it done Friday before Texas came to a resolution on Brown’s future? It’s not that complicated. Saban wasn’t out recruiting all day Friday. He was finally in his office, tending to paperwork and other business.

Some people might look at Saban’s new deal, which adds a year through the 2020 season and bumps his average annual salary above $7 million, and gasp. College football has never had a $6-million man. Saban was close, but he just high-jumped that threshold like Carl Lewis at the Olympics.

Economically and symbolically, Saban’s new contract simply makes sense because of the incredible return on investment he provides, and it once again separates him from the pack, which was creeping closer in compensation but not in performance.

Kevin Sumlin has done good things at Texas A&M, but he just got a new contract worth $5 million a year without winning the SEC West or reaching the SEC Championship Game in his two years in the league.

Saban’s three national championships in four years with the Crimson Tide, and all the other good things he’s accomplished on and off the field, should be worth much more than that.

As crazy as $7 million a year for a college football coach sounds, Scarbinsky is right.  Top tier coaches, including the embattled Brown, were all making the kind of money Saban was. Given that he’s the most successful coach of his era and continued to be highly sought after—and given how lucrative that success has been for Alabama’s athletics program—bumping him into a class of his own was a no-brainer.

As for Texas, I’d suggest that there’s a guy out there who’s just two months older than Saban who’s won a national championship, lost to Saban in another national championship game (in which his star quarterback was injured early), won multiple national coach of the year awards and Big 12 championships, and is willing to work for a measly $5.5 million.  The beauty part is they’ve already got him under contract through 2016.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am shocked, shocked, that Saban would stay in the best place for him to be and for Alabama to pay him as the best coach in college football.

    On a side note, when you take a look at what is happening at Texas currently, and Alabama currently, the flagship programs for the Big 12 and the SEC, is it any wonder Missouri and A&M took off for the greener pastures of the SEC?

  2. Me Me Me says:

    The two weirdest things about America are the gun fetishism and “college” football.

  3. Crusty Dem says:

    I really wonder about any sports article with a line like “he just high-jumped that threshold like Carl Lewis at the Olympics”. Like Joe Montana hitting a home run? Or Willie Mays throwing a touchdown pass? Like Wayne Gretzky hittin that big 3 pointer?

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Crusty Dem: Yes, good point. “…like Dick Fosbury” just have the same ring, I guess.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    In the scheme of things just how important is College Football?

    Let me put it this way: MLB, Robinson Cano 10 years at $24M per year; college football, Nick Saban at $7M per year.

    Also, Cano just reminded everyone that he felt disrespected by the Yankee offer of 7 years at $25M per year.

    College football is so quaint.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    As a Tennessee Vol, I would have recommended Lane Kiffen; he’s available, I think.