The New York Giants are busy interviewing candidates to become the 18th head coach in franchise history.
Defensive coordinator/interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo was interviewed first. The New England Patriots’ Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, and former Denver Broncos assistant head coach Eric Studesville have also sat down with the Giants brain trust.
The identity of Ben McAdoo’s successor is unknown although two very high-profile names can be crossed off the list. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, despite what the rumor mill says, will not be roaming the sidelines at MetLife Stadium come September.
Giants fans salivated over the prospect of Belichick “coming home”. After all, he was the defensive coordinator of the teams that won Super Bowls XXI and XXV. Rumors surfaced that Belichick, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and quarterback Tom Brady are not getting along. It would make headlines if Belichick returned to the Meadowlands after his Hall of Fame run in Foxborough.
As great as it sounds on paper, Belichick coaching the Giants is the stuff of fantasy.
For starters, Belichick has a pretty good thing going in New England. The Patriots, defending Super Bowl champs, are preparing for yet another postseason run. Belichick is the Patriots’ de facto general manager. Why would he give that up to come to the Giants and be accountable to the newly hired Dave Gettleman? The control over personnel is what brought Belichick to New England in the first place.
As for Saban, speculation over whether he will leave Tuscaloosa for the NFL is an annual rite of winter. The recently retired Bruce Arians helped to fuel said speculation, which increased after the Crimson Tide won their fifth national championship under Saban Monday night.
Saban coming to the Giants would make a huge splash in the media but don’t expect him to leave Alabama.
Saban has NFL experience already. He was an assistant with the Houston Oilers under Jerry Glanville for two seasons (1988-89) and Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator under Belichick (1991-94). Saban was also head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2005-06.
Saban himself referred to his time with the Browns as “the worst four years of his life”. It is unknown whether he was referring to the football purgatory that is Cleveland or working with the ornery Belichick. His Dolphins tenure was unspectacular with a record of 15-17 but he was .500 against Belichick and the Patriots.
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There are also 65 million reasons for Saban to remain in Tuscaloosa: the $65 million he will receive for coaching the Crimson Tide through the 2024 season (not including incentives that could total $700,000 a year).
Saban made $11.125 million in 2017. If he is fired without cause, the University of Alabama would owe him as much as four years of his base salary and a “talent fee” (consideration for various television/radio endorsement). The amount of the buyout is nearly $27 million.
In addition to the financial incentive, Saban’s legend in Tuscaloosa seems to grow larger with each win. This is monumental considering he used to coach in the immense shadow of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Saban won his fifth national championship in just his 11th season at Alabama. Bryant won his fifth national championship in his 18th season.
The differences between coaching collegiate and professional football players is so obvious it almost need not be said.
After a season of discontent, the Giants are looking forward to their future. Speculation about who the next head coach will be is a part of the process. As much as it might disappoint some Giants fans, the next head coach will not be Bill Belichick or Nick Saban.