Thursday, June 24, 2010

No apology necessary, Nick Saban

Multiple local media outlets have written about a recent apology offered by former Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban regarding his tumultuous exit from the team following the 2006 season.

Saban, who joined the Dolphins as head coach on a mega-money deal in 2005 after a successful coaching stint at LSU, was rumored to be considering a job with the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half of Dolphins' rough season in 2006.

Although he initially denied any interest in his part, Saban eventually bolted for Tuscaloosa not long after the Dolphins' season ended.

No man was hated more in Miami than Saban after his departure, and three years later, many Dolphins fans still harbor feelings of anger, resentment and even hatred toward the team's former head coach.

In his recent apology, Saban expressed regret for how the situation played out in Miami, calling it a "professional mishandling" and saying he should not have answered any questions on the topic of Alabama during the season.

I'm sure the news of this apology struck most Dolphins fans as too little too late, and I expect it won't do much at all to change his perception in the eyes of many.

However, I fall on the complete other side of the fence. Not only have I harbored no resentment toward Saban since he left Miami, but I have always felt he handled the situation as best he could. I also believe he never owed us an apology in the first place.

As I see it, there are two reasons Dolphins fans hate Saban. First, because they think he "abandoned" the team. And second, because he "lied to our faces" about not being interested in the Alabama job when he was still coaching the Dolphins.

The first item, while unfortunate, is really no one's fault. Saban joined the Dolphins in 2005 because he wanted the job. When he left in 2007, it was because he didn't want it anymore. He wanted to go back to the college ranks, where he was obviously more comfortable and better-suited.

That being the case, there was nothing he could do but leave. Saban couldn't change the fact that he'd made a mistake by joining the Dolphins, nor could he change the fact that his heart was no longer in the job.

This isn't the Catholic Church. The best thing for all parties involved at that point was a divorce. Saban shouldn't be in Miami if he didn't want to be, and should the Dolphins really want Saban as their head coach if they know he doesn't want to be there?

Then we have the infamous lie. In front of the Dolphins media in December 21, 2006, Saban, after repeated questions, declared, "I am not going to be the Alabama coach."

Of course, Saban says he technically didn't lie when he made that statement, as he has always maintained that he talked to the school and considered the job only the season had ended.

This is probably not the case, but even if he did flat-out lie to everyone, I do not believe it was wrong. In fact, I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, and in the best interest of the Dolphins.

As I'm sure you recall, prior to Saban's declaration, he'd been hounded with questions day after day and week after week by reporters asking if he were considering the Alabama job. It quickly turned into a distraction, and that sort of thing is never good for an team during an NFL season.

At that point, Saban had a few options. He could take the Bobby Petrino route, bolting mid-season with no regard for the welfare of the team he was leaving. He could admit he was considering the job but commit to finishing the season in Miami, although this certainly would have led to pandemonium.

Or, he could lie. By declaring absolutely no interest in the Alabama job, Saban could do everything in his power to effectively end any distraction to the Dolphins' team and focus on finishing out his commitment to the team's 2006 season.

So lie is what he did, and it was the right thing to do. It might have hurt some feelings later when he turned around and took the Alabama job after the season, but there is absolutely no denying that trying to quell the rumors and distractions was in the best interest of the team at the time.

The Saban situation in Miami wasn't fun for anyone, himself included. He never came the Dolphins with the intent to leave them in a bind after two seasons. He obviously made a mistake leaving the college ranks, and I'm sure even he would tell you that.

But there is no reason in my eyes to harbor ill feelings toward the guy. He has every right to change his mind about being in Miami, just as you have every right to break up with someone or get a divorce if that's how you feel.

And if Saban did feel that way, as was obviously the case, do you really want him coaching your favorite team anyway?

The other important thing to remember about all this is that good things do often come out bad. Would you trade Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano, Chad Henne, Randy Starks, Karlos Dansby, and all the other things good about the current Miami Dolphins to have Saban back? A Nick Saban that would probably be feeling miserable, stuck, and wanting out?

If not, then there's no reason to be upset about Saban's departure. It was an unfortunate situation, but it was unavoidable and no one's fault.

I appreciate the apology, Nick, but with all due respect, it wasn't necessary. Things worked out for everyone.


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