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How the Saban Deal REALLY Went Down

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Since I've gotten the e-mail a few times and it's been floating around on message boards (and the Georgia Sports Blog), I'm moving Chalkdusts's diary out here to the front page.  I'm 99.99999% sure it's a total load of BS that some attention hog wrote after the fact, but it's still fairly amusing.

OK here goes I told ya'll I'd give you a synopsis of what transpired for Alabama to land Nick Saban. Here it is.

The week after the Alabama vs UT game, Saban's agent contacted Alabama officials to inform them that Nick would be interested in talking to them about the head coaching position if it were to come open. At that time, Mike Shula had full confidence from his superiors and there was no reason to believe that there would be a coaching vacancy, however there were beginning to be some rumblings within power circles that Shula was over his head and it was becoming obvious. Anyone who watched Alabama underachieve could not deny it. Then came the loss to MSU and that is when the powers that be started reviewing their options.

The week after that game, Mal met with Shula and to ld him that there had be signs of improvement the following two weeks. He didn't dictate that Shula had better win but back to my point earlier, it was obvious the team was digressing instead of progressing. Bama played better but lost to a good LSU team and for the most part it looked like the problems had been addressed. Then came the Auburn game. Shula horribly mismanaged that game and Dr. Witt and Mal were both so furious that they stormed out of their skybox before the game ended.

Let me go back a little. Mike Price brought in an OL coach named Bob Connelly who taught the zone blocking scheme that is ideal for a spread offense. Shula retained him when he came and it became painfully obvious to everyone (except Shula) that the zone blocking scheme was not working for the pro set that Shula wanted to run. It was clear in 2004 that a new OL coach was needed and Shula never addressed it. Also, although Shula had an "OC" in Dave Rader he chose to call the plays himself and quite frankly was not very good at it. Back to the Auburn loss; Mal held a meeting with Shula the Monday after the Auburn game and told him that he needed to address the problems with the O-line and with playcalling.

There were also serious issues in regards to discipline and S&C that needed addressing. Shula did not demand S&C participation and left it up to his assistants to oversee player participation, however he did not back up his coaches when the players were not attending as they should. They met again the next day and Shula's plan was to move the OL coach to centers and guards and to move the ST coach (who has never ever coached the O line) to tackles. He also told Mal that he would not give up playcalling duties. Mal told him that was not acceptable and to present another plan to him the following day. Well, Shula came back the next day and gave him the exact same plan.

What was really happening is that Shula was getting bad advice from Ray Perkins (who was Shula's coach at Bama and was positioning himself to be AD when Mal retired.) Perkins was telling Shula to stand his ground because they wouldn't dare fire him. In the meantime, Mal and Dr. Witt were making contengency plans. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Shula scheduled a players meeting for that night and attended that meeting and informed the players that there would be no changes and that all the coaches would be back next year. He was fired shortly after that meeting. What many don't realize is that Shula knew what he was doing and was trying to force Mal's hand because Mal had been trying to call him all day long and Shula wouldn't answer his phone.

In the days preceeding the firing, Saban's camp had reiterated that they were interested in the job but would not talk further until there was an official opening. Once that opening came, talks progressed fast and Saban told Bama that if they would wait until the end of the NFL season that he would be theirs. At that time, Jimmy Sexton started leaking Spurriers name about the job and that was done in order to try and keep the attention off of Saban for as long as possible. There was really never any serious flirtation with Spurrier and contrary to reports he was never offered the job.

There is a group in the Alabama AD that I call the "rats". these guys consist of a bunch of good ole boys who have jobs because they know the right people and would rather protect their jobs than do what is best for Alabama. These "rats" were putting pressure via there powerful (BOT) friends on Mal to look at other options because they "thought" Saban and Sexton were just using Alabama to get an extension. The reason I put "thought" in parentheses is because these guys actually knew that Saban would come if Bama waited (and Mal and Dr. Witt were willing to wait) and they also knew that they would be out of a job if Saban came.

Mal went to New York for the NCAA awards ceremonies and while there he met with three people (and you can call me crazy if you want but my record speaks for itself) Greg Schiano, Bob Stoops, and Rich Rodriquez. RR was very interested in the job and he was immediately positioned as the #2 guy if something should fall apart with Saban. Unfortunately, the "rats" convinced their BOT buddies that we could not take the chance to wait on Saban and we needed to get RR while we could. We offered him and he agreed. Now this is where it is pure speculation on my part but I really believe that Mal helped "sabatoge" the RR deal because he allowed him to go back to West Virginia to think it over, and thus allowing WV to counter offer. Thank god RR turned it down because #1 it allowed Mal to get back in control and it allowed the "rats" to be outed.

After RR decline, Bama got together a powerful group to "support" Mal and keep the "rats" at bay. That group consisted of Joe Namath, Gene Stallings, Lee Roy Jordan, and Billy Neighbors. Saban's camp once again said that things could happen if we would just wait. So we did. During the meantime, the contract was essentially drawn up between Sexton and Bama officials with the only thing holding the announcement being Dec 31. During this time Nick was already putting out feelers to guys he was interested in bringing in as assistants. On Jan 1, Mal and Billy flew down and Joe met them there. They met with Nick and his family and all plans were for a formal announcement on Tuesday, however, Nick thinks very highly of Wayne Huizenga and Wayne asked that Nick wait one more day to make the decision, which was never a decision at that point.

Yesterday afternoon Nick signed some documents that were akin to promissory notes and then last night around 8:30 est Nick signed the contract. Nick is in Tuscaloosa now and has already toured the facilities this after noon. Press conference will be tomorrow at 10 am.