Deja Saban


The Miami Dolphins still have not made up their mind about their head coaching vacancy.  While Stephen Ross wines and dines Jim Harbaugh, Tony Sparano waits.  O.k. that’s old news, as in three days old now and fans and the media are all getting bored with talking about it.  It’s consuming the forums, the live chat rooms, the blogs themselves.  But this isn’t about Tony Sparano on hold or about Jim Harbaugh, Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, or any other coach.  No, this is about a replay of events from the 2004 off- season when a high-profile electric and eclectic college coach was being courted.

By the Miami Dolphins.

And the parallel of this off-seasons events as well.

First let’s get this out of the way.  The similarities between Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban start and end with “they both coached college football”.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  So while the “Deja Vu” events of yesterday hark back to ’04 Jim Harbaugh is not Nick Saban.  But that doesn’t mean the end result won’t be similar.

Yesterday Stephen Ross hopped on his plane and headed West to make one last attempt to convince Jim Harbaugh to uproot his family and move all the way across the United States to the sunny beaches of South Florida.  He is throwing a large sum of money to an unproven NFL prospect, reportedly in the 7 million dollar range.  He wants Jim Harbaugh and it appears that there is nothing that will stop him.

Flashback, 2004.

Wayne Huizenga watched as Dave Wannstedt resigned mid-way through the 2003 season and Jim Bates was not going to make the jump from interim to incumbent HC.  Mr. H. wined and dined and wined and dined some more the fabulous college coach that every NFL team wished they could get.  Saban said no.  Initially.  But Wayne wouldn’t take no for an answer.  So, he hopped on his private jet and flew down to Louisiana and made one last attempt to get the coach he wanted.

Flash-forward.  2010.

Jim Harbaugh has not told Ross no yet.  Not that we know of anyways.  What we do know is that following the Orange Bowl, Harbaugh didn’t meet with the Dolphins brass and flew back to “Cali” with the team.  Rumors ran rampant on Tuesday that the 49’ers were set to announce Harbaugh as the new HC.  It seemed like a solid fit.  21 miles away from the families home.  Nothing to uproot, nothing to undo, no kids changing schools, meeting new friends, nothing.  Seemingly perfect.

But Ross, like Wayne isn’t taking no, or the possibility of no as an answer.  So he flew to meet the coach, open checkbook in hand and is prepared to make Harbaugh one of the elite paid coaches on the NFL level.

Flashback.  2004.

With a “no thank you” answer in hand, Wayne flies to La. opens up his checkbook, offers up more power than any coach or GM in Miami history and convinces the LSU coach that the NFL, the money, the power, is exactly what he wants.  He makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

Nick Saban never wanted to coach in the NFL.  He wanted to be a God in college.  Where is Nick Saban now?

Flash Forward.

Jim Harbaugh wants to be an NFL head coach.  He runs an NFL style program at Stanford.  Saban did not.  He runs a high-octane offense that while is nothing new, is highly effective.  Harbaugh has no false hopes or imaginations about the NFL because he has already lived it.  He knows it, he want’s it, and he has that drive to succeed.  Stanford, like his stint in San Diego are all simply stepping stones to this moment.

The jump to the NFL.

But…there is always a but.  Harbaugh wasn’t bouncing up and down and biting at the thought of coming to Miami.  He had been speaking with the San Francisco people for weeks it was reported, yesterday.  He “signed off” on the new GM hired by Jed York the President of the team.  His family would stay in California, he would stay in California.  It was there on the dotted line and all he has to do is sign it.

Enter Stephen Ross.

The 49’ers won’t offer Harbaugh what Ross will.  They won’t come close.  Ross wants his Michigan alumnus.  He want’s to bring a man that is not sure if he wants to make this type of life change, this, culture change, and he is going to throw money and promises to get him to do it.  He will talk with the wife, maybe the kids, tell them all the great things there is to do in Miami.  It’s a harder sell for someone coming from California than Louisiana.

No one knows what is going to happen in the end.  Ross could have for all we know, been asked to come out there by Harbaugh and his agent.  Or, Ross could be playing a scene from “My Best Friends Wedding” or any other number of jilted lover chick flicks.  Or he simply just believes that Harbaugh is the guy to fill the seats and right this sinking ship.

Who knows.  There is a bunch of parallels to that fateful decision seven years ago when Nick Saban agreed to come to Miami, stayed for two years and hauled his ass to Alabama.  Jim Harbaugh won’t likely have the culture shock in Miami that Saban and his family did.  But his family may find the congested streets and smoldering heat a little less comfortable than in California.

Right or wrong, Ross is making his pitch and his play.  He may land the guy that he wants or Harbaugh may walk away and decide staying home is better than moving across the country.

Or he could simply be milking Ross for every penny he can get and had already decided he wanted to come to Miami a few days ago.

I guess we will know soon enough.