What if Nick Saban had stayed another year?
Yes, I just wrote that. Everyone, Saban and Cam Cameron and the Dolphins and LSU and Michigan, would be better off for 2008.
How would Saban be better off? Well, the fact is he is in deep do at Alabama now coming off back-to-back losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe. His team is underachieving and fans once loyal to him are getting the idea the guy is something of a strange bird based on comments he made Monday.
Saban described the humbling defeat against ULM inappropriately, mentioning the 9-11 terrorist attacks and Pearl Harbor in talking about how his team must rebound like America did from a "catastrophic event.''
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event,'' Saban said. "It may be 9-11, which sort of changed the spirit of America RELATIVE TO catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event.''
Well, the losing and analogy hasn't gone over well in Dixie.
And that leads me to the reason everyone would be better off if Saban had stayed. If he had stayed, and I remind you it was HIS choice to leave, Saban probably would be struggling with the Dolphins this year. But he would likely be preparing himself for a return to LSU if/when Les Miles flies the coop for Michigan.
Think of it. If Saban were Miami's coach, Miles would almost certainly become Michigan's coach because the folks at LSU would gladly let Miles out of his contract in order to get Saban back. And it is that contract, which has a $1.25 million buyout clause if Miles goes to Michigan, that is the only thing that might keep Miles at LSU.
If Saban went back to LSU, he would be returning to a program stocked with talent -- which Alabama was not. He'd be returning to a place where he is adored and his foibles are embraced -- which he is finding Alabama is not. He'd be going back to an open and seemingly unlimited checkbook.
So Michigan would get the coach it wants and LSU would get the coach it wants.
So how would that make things better for the Dolphins? As I just stated, Saban would be struggling with the Dolphins this year as any coach would. But do you think he'd be winless? His Miami teams started slow both years, but they hit a stride midway through the season. It didn't last and it didn't make them good long-term or short-term.
But they were not WINLESS. Not even close.
And I don't think they would be winless this year under Saban. And how would that be better for Miami long-term?
Well, it was clear last year that the big-name coaches the Dolphins coveted initially -- Pete Carroll and Bill Cowher -- were not ready to move or get back into coaching. Those close to Cowher believe he'll be ready to return to coaching this year. And if the Dolphins were in the market for a coach this year, following Saban's departure to LSU, I am certain they would be players in the chase for Coach Chin.
Furthermore, I put to you that had Saban stayed in Miami this year, held out one more inglorious season, Cam Cameron would be better off as well. If Saban had stayed, Cameron would still be in San Diego in some capacity because he had only one other head coach interview last year and Arizona didn't ask him back for a second talk.
So he would not have left San Diego. He would, worst case, be San Diego's offensive coordinator, which given the talent there is pretty attractive. And if things had played out as they did, Cameron would almost certainly have inherited the head coaching job when Marty Schottenheimer was fired.
So Camerons would be San Diego's head coach and the Dolphins would be in good position to hire a good head coach with a winning track record because they could chose between a semi-retired Cowher and an unemployed Schottenheimer as their next coach.
So to recap if Saban had stayed in Miami this year, the Dolphins might not be winless and in 2008:
Saban would be coaching LSU.
Cameron would be coaching San Diego.
And either Cowher or Schottenheimer could be coaching the Dolphins.
That's better all the way around, I think.