Winning in college football is easy relative to the pros. All you need is an administration that backs the program, lots of boosters with deep pockets and a rabid fan base that will stick with you through thick and thin.
Then you need a coaching staff that can get the most out of the talent on the field, while simultaneously recruiting circles around the competition—while occasionally running circles around the rules.
Put that all together and you’ve got the two-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide led by Nick Saban.
Saban’s Tide are well on pace to capture another BCS Title, crowning them king for the fourth time in five seasons and the fifth time in Saban’s career—he led LSU to the championship in 2003.
So, why is there so much speculation about Saban moving on after the ’13 season?
History: He left a successful program at Michigan State for a higher profile gig at LSU in ’00. He then left a championship program at LSU for a higher profile gig with the Miami Dolphins in ’05.
Boredom: Saban is dominating college football from its toughest and most competitive conference, the Southeastern. If Alabama wins its third title in a row, there’d be little left to whet his appetite in the college ranks.
Misconduct?: Everyone assumes successful programs must be cheating the system somehow, because it usually turns out to be true. And with an enforcement record as arbitrary as the NCAA, your punishment could be as lenient as Miami’s or as harsh as SMU’s.
If the heat gets too close Saban would be wise to take a page out of Pete Carroll’s playbook and skate away unscathed from scattershot NCAA sanctions.
Redemption: Miami started Gus Frerotte, Sage Rosenfels, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper and Cleo Lemon at quarterback during Saban’s two years as head coach.
The Dolphins passed on Aaron Rodgers in the ’05 draft and signed Culpepper over Drew Brees in ’06 because the team was concerned Brees’s couldn’t recover from a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
Saban left the NFL bitter, dragging his trampled reputation back to college.
Opportunity: If Saban learned anything in his first go-round it’s that you can’t win in the NFL without an above-average quarterback.
The following five teams have the rare combination of a projected or established star at QB and the potential for a coaching vacancy by the end of the season…