Saban stays at LSU
King: Richest coaching contract in NCAA history trumps Bears' offer
Posted: Saturday January 10, 2004 7:42PM; Updated: Saturday January 10, 2004 8:04PM
BATON ROUGE, La. (SI.com) -- Coach Nick Saban announced Saturday he will stay at LSU, one day after talking to the Chicago Bears about their job opening.
"That's not something I'm interested in doing right now. I'm very happy to be the coach here," Saban said. "We're looking forward to the challenges of making LSU a dominant program in the future."
Saban led the Tigers to a share of their first national title since 1958 season, triggering a clause in his contract that guarantees him becoming the highest-paid coach in college football.
SI.com's Peter King reports that Saban's contract will be the richest ever given a college football coach. Although some details still need to be ironed out, the deal will be for between six and eight years, at approximately $2.75 million per year, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations between LSU and Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton.
Saban, the AP coach of the year, made $1.5 million last year. The previous highest-paid coach in college football was Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who makes $2.3 million a year.
The Tigers beat Stoops' Sooners 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl last Sunday to win the Bowl Championship Series title. LSU finished second to Southern California in The Associated Press poll.
According to King, Saban decided to announce he was staying at LSU before the deal was done for a couple of reasons. One, he couldn't afford further damage to his recruiting class, which is slated to be one of the best in the nation come signing day in February. Two, he came to the realization that the Bears likely wouldn't up the ante to the ballpark of what a marquee coach deserves to make in the NFL today, about $4-4.5 million a year.
Saban's name had been linked to NFL openings because of his success at LSU and his experience as an assistant in the pros. He met on Friday with Bears general manager Jerry Angelo -- a longtime friend -- but did not say whether he was in fact offered an NFL job.
"This was just a conversation about would I be interested or not," Saban said, adding that he had hoped word of the meeting would not get out so soon.
Since it had, Saban asked LSU to set up a hastily called media conference to ease the concerns of his current players and potential recruits.
"I didn't want it to be rumor and innuendo out there," he said. "I didn't want it to affect recruiting or our players on our team. I wanted to be proactive getting the information out to everyone."
Saban took over a team that had gone 3-8 in 1999 and in his first season went 8-4 with a Peach Bowl victory. LSU has been in bowl games all four of his seasons, winning two Southeastern Conference titles and two Sugar Bowls. The Tigers are 39-13 under Saban overall.
"We worked hard for four years to get here and I really enjoy it, quite frankly, and wasn't really anxious just to walk away from it," Saban said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.