With college football entering bowl season and the NFL coming into the home stretch of the regular season, the rumor mill will get cranked up about which college coaches will get looked at for open NFL head coaching jobs. One possibility that many NFL franchises looking for a new head coach will consider is Alabama Crimson Tide lead man Nick Saban. But ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles great Ron Jaworski does not endorse Saban making a return to the professional football ranks.
In a radio interview earlier this week, Jaworski has some less than flattering words about Saban:
“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 to the fans of Miami, and he left. And 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 I don’t want Nick Saban in town.”
Pretty harsh words for a guy who may end up being a candidate for the Eagles head coaching job if Andy Reid ends up being let go, which looks more and more like a guarantee. Needless to say, they may not exchange Christmas cards this season.
Jaworski has some reason to be skeptical of Saban as an NFL head coach though. Saban’s first stint in the professional ranks came with Miami, where he led the team to a 9-7 finish in his first season before struggling to a 6-10 finish in year two, Saban’s first losing season as a head coach.
Following the 6-10 season, Saban was rumored to be interested the vacant job at Alabama after the school had led Mike Shula go. Saban adamantly denied the rumors, telling reporters “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach,” but ultimately met with Alabama officials and took the head coaching job. Saban’s disingenuous handling of the whole situation left many people upset, including former Dolphins tight end/radio broadcaster Jim Mandrich, who said that he wanted to fight Saban because of his defection back to college.
And it appears some people still haven’t forgotten. Jaworski remains an influential figure with the Philadelphia franchise as one of the best quarterbacks in the team’s history. His recommendation to steer clear of Saban may hold some weight, especially with disgruntled fans.
But Saban’s collegiate success makes it unavoidable that he’ll be pursued by NFL teams in need of a head coach. Even with his first foray into the league being a failure, he’s shown an innate ability to coach football as he is in line to possibly win his fourth national championship this season.
Pete Carroll followed up a bad initial run in the NFL with a successful college tenure. He then turned that into a second chance in the NFL and was able to find success with the Seattle Seahawks. Perhaps Saban just needs a second chance as well.
No matter how unpopular he may be with Jaworski, Saban deserves, and will get, a hard look by the Philadelphia Eagles if and when their head coaching search begins. Whether or not Saban takes the job or finds success in the NFL is another question that will be answered in time, but if he does pursue the Eagles job, one thing is for certain: He should avoid asking Ron Jaworski for a reference.