By John Camera
That was almost the headline back in January when the Giants fired longtime Head Coach Tom Coughlin and were searching for a replacement, according to actor Tom Arnold. Arnold went on Paul Finebaum’s ESPN show Friday to drop this little nugget; the Giants were ready to officially make then-offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo the head man before management received a call from Saban’s people that the Alabama coach wanted the Giants’ job. Saban only had one caveat, according to Arnold, he had to speak to his wife about it first. The Giants’ reportedly gave Saban three hours to mull it over with Mrs. Saban before they needed a clear answer; they didn’t want to string Ben McAdoo along. Arnold doesn’t give a clear resolution as to why Saban didn’t make the move, if it was his wife who wasn’t ready, if the head coach thought the better of it, or if the Giants’ decided to turn him down but one thing is for certain; no one at ‘Bama or in the Giants will confirm this story.
So this little tale from B-movie actor Tom Arnold is sure to light up the sports world for a couple days and why shouldn’t it? The sight of Nick Saban in Giants blue as opposed to Alabama crimson is fun to picture. “What-if” stories paint all corners of the sports universe because its enjoyable to imagine a reality apart from our own and think what we would like to think would’ve happened, in this case, if Nick Saban became the head coach of the New York Giants.
As mentioned earlier, this is a story that can never be confirmed and we’ll see if any insiders from Saban or the Giants go on the record as anonymous sources to say its true. If not, its up to each of us to believe whether or not the tale is tall. Could they really hope that Saban’s Act II would’ve mimicked Pete Carroll’s second foray into the NFL? Would the Giants’ really be that prepared to dump their offensive coordinator that had presided over Eli Manning’s resuscitation and Odell Beckham’s supersonic rise? Probably not but if owners John Mara and Steve Tisch really thought Saban was the leader they needed, maybe they would’ve said goodbye to McAdoo.
Its important to remember that Saban was certainly not a dominant head coach in his first stint as the top guy for the 2005-2006 Miami Dolphins. Saban’s record was 15-17. He was fired after those two years and returned to the SEC. He’s since turned Alabama into a ho-hum champion, a dynasty so ruthless and dominant their reign as No. 1 is considered typical. When Alabama doesn’t win it takes a record-breaking star like Cam Newton or Johnny Manziel to knock them out.
Saban would’ve been familiar to the Giants locker room in that he was a demanding coach that expected the best from his players like Tom Coughlin did. Its hard to say though whether his style of coaching would’ve worked with older, professional athletes who don’t often like being treated like their college counterparts; a coach screaming in your face will get old to an NFL player. Would Saban have adjusted his coaching techniques? Its hard to say but it feeds into the unknown aspect of a “What-if.” Saban is certainly not Pete Carroll, who is more of a “players’ coach” and is significantly less stone-faced than Saban, Coughlin, or even current Giants’ coach Ben McAdoo.
For both sides, the deal that never was probably worked out in the end. Ben McAdoo has shown flashes as rookie head coach and, although there is a lot to improve, still has the Giants at 4-3 in their bye week and very much in the NFC East and playoff hunt. Saban has the Tide at No. 1 again and it doesn’t look like anyone from the SEC will be challenging them this year (of course LSU will beat them after I say this). One question remains; do they make straw hats in blue?