Nick Saban is the king of the state of Alabama these days. He’s the leader of the pack when it comes to football coaches nationwide. When he acts, others follow. Saban rules the Southeastern Conference with a program that’s hiring support staff like an NFL franchise.
Yet with all that power, Saban says choosing a replacement for AD Mal Moore — who moved into another role with the school yesterday — isn’t his duty:
“I’m going to tell you that’s not my decision. We have really, really good people here: Chancellors, presidents, other people in the athletic department, people on the board who I have every faith, trust and confidence will make an outstanding decision as to what’s best for the University of Alabama…
My part of it will be to do everything I can to make it work with whoever that individual is. Don’t ask me. That’s all I’m going to say about it because I don’t really know anything about it. I’m not going to call the chancellor and ask him what call to make on third down. Or the president.”
In addition, Saban said he wouldn’t “want to try” to take on the AD job while still coaching. He didn’t, however, close the door on the idea of becoming the Tide athletic director at some point down the road… something that will now be held over the head of whoever Bama hires.
“I don’t think that I would ever be happy if I wasn’t doing something,” the 61-year-old coach said. “I know Miss Terry would not be happy if I wasn’t doing something because I’d drive her nuts in a week.”
One name that’s bound to be kicked around is that of a man who worked with Saban up until the start of the 2011 season. On the job as Tennessee’s athletic director for a year-and-a-half at this point, former Tide basketball player Dave Hart served as UA’s “executive director of athletics” and ran Bama’s day-to-day operations while Moore focused more on fundraising and facilities.
Asked about the situation on Knoxville’s WNML-AM/FM yesterday, Hart provided the boilerplate non-denial denial that coaches (and ADs) give when a job comes open elsewhere:
“My focus is purely here. We’re making a lot of progress. I’m excited about the progress we’re making here and my total focus is on continuing to be privileged to serve as vice chancellor and director of athletics at Tennessee.”
For now at least.
But Hart’s name is still the first mentioned by al.com on its list of potential candidates for the job. The list also includes the man who replaced Hart in running the daily operations of UA athletics, Shane Lyons. Former Tide footballer and current Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is listed as a possibility as well, though The Baltimore Sun newspaper called a potential departure by Newsome “a major long shot.”
Finally, former NFL assistant, current Senior Bowl executive director, and current UA radio analyst Phil Savage is also on al.com’s list.