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You can't trust anyone

Saban's potential flip-flop typical of NFL coaches

Posted: Tuesday January 2, 2007 4:01PM; Updated: Tuesday January 2, 2007 4:37PM
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Nick Saban appears to be backing off statements that he wants to remain with the Dolphins.
Nick Saban appears to be backing off statements that he wants to remain with the Dolphins.
John Biever/SI
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You know what this job teaches me, consistently? Sometimes you're better off not talking to the people involved. All they do is confuse you.

Case in point: Nick Saban. Two weeks ago, I reported on NBC that I gave Saban two chances to say he would be back with the Dolphins in 2007 and not take a college job, and he wouldn't say he'd definitely be back. I thought it was news. NBC thought it was news. We aired it.

The next day, Miami's PR man, Harvey Greene, called to say Saban was not pleased with the report and would like to speak with me. So we spoke. "I wish I'd known you were going to say that,'' Saban said. "I would definitely have not left you with that impression.'' He went on to say in no uncertain terms he wasn't going anywhere, and the only way he wouldn't be back was if he got fired or, after sitting down with his wife at the end of the year, there was some family reason to not return.

Well, whatever the outcome of the Saban story with Miami and Alabama -- and as of midday Tuesday it looks like he's a goner -- the moral of the story is it's senseless to believe coaches in the middle of the season when you ask about their future.

I've got an idea for future conversations with coaches as the end of the season approaches. It comes from a talk I had last week with a current NFL head coach who I thought might be interested in moving on at the end of the year. I asked this coach if he could tell me categorically if he was bound to his team next year, or whether he might try to move to another team or get out of the game for a year or two.

Deep Coach answered the question the way I wish all of them would.

"Sorry I can't help you,'' he said. "I just don't talk about my contract. Ever.''

Great! Don't lie, don't tell. That should be the policy of every coach.

On with your e-mail. Since I took last Tuesday's column off, I'll lead with some of your missives on the Christmas column of our favorite soldier, Mike McGuire.

THEY LIKE MIKE. From Gary Crawford of San Diego: "As an active duty U.S. Marine, I just wanted to say thanks for telling the story of Sgt. McGuire. Your objective look at what is going on overseas, without any biased opinions of the war, is really refreshing. There are thousands of men and women doing great work just like Mike and his unit, and I think your column really reflects that. Thanks again for telling it like it is and showing the American people how well our brave men and women of all the armed forces are serving them proudly.''

CANADA LIKES MIKE. From Ed of Calgary: "Two words: Thank you. Reading your story on Sgt. McGuire once again put life into perspective.''

A VET LIKES MIKE. From Corey McArthur of Queens, N.Y.: "I am a veteran and your writing touched me in a profound way. You could have been talking about anyone of us who have been in that situation. Please tell Sgt. McGuire the only thing that helped me with the bad dreams is for the last half hour before I go to bed I focus on all the good things in my life. That can get me three or four good hours.''

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