FootballScoop has stayed out of the Nick Saban/Texas fracas in recent weeks, mostly because we've felt there isn't anything of substance worth writing about. Here is less than shocking news, folks, on nearly every Board of Regents there is someone thinking "what if" and nearly every agent out there is willing to have any conversation a Regent wants about his clients. These conversations happen every day. They generally aren't newsworthy.
However, there are some real-world factors everyone should know about this situation, and they come into play this weekend.
First, let's lay out the facts as they stand today.
- There currently is not an opening at Texas. As long as Texas keeps winning, that will remain the case. A brand-new director of athletics isn't pushing out a future Hall of Famer after a 10-2, conference championship season. He's just not. If Mack wants to return next season, he will as long as he keeps winning. However...
- The two best teams on Texas' schedule are still ahead of them. The Oklahoma upset was modestly impressive (did you see what happened last night in Waco?), but the Longhorns' other four victims represent four of the bottom five teams in the Big 12.
- Mack would like to retire with a parade. If it's up to him, he'd announce his retirement a year ahead of time, and spend his last season on the ceremonial rocking chair tour throughout the Big 12. A loss to West Virginia or Oklahoma State would allow the 'Horns final home game, against Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night, to be his send off. And then there's that matter of the finale in Waco and the kamikaze effort Baylor will throw at the Longhorns in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium.
- If Texas does indeed wind up with an opening, they, like every program, should shoot for the stars. A reminder, this is the University of Texas. The Longhorns' (rather, some Longhorns') interest in Saban seems undeniable at this point.
- If Alabama plays for the national championship, Saban simply can not leave Alabama. Even if Saban's conscience would allow him to leave Tuscaloosa after four national titles in five seasons, the real life logistics of the situation do not. The BCS National Championship will be played January 6, 2014. This means the earliest he could leave would be January 8. Texas would not be in a position to wait that long and, given the news of the week, Saban shouldn't trust those around him to keep a secret for that long. The Alabama fan base is the most passionate on the planet. Were Nick to leave, he'd morph from pharaoh to pariah in a Paul Finebaum heartbeat.
That brings us to Saturday night. An hour apart from each other, Mack will kick off in Morgantown as Saban hosts LSU. A loss to West Virginia sends the burnt orange nation back into a relapse of apoplectic rage last induced by Taysom Hill and BYU, and brings to mind legitimate questions about what sort of shape his outfit will look like at the finish line of a finishing kick that includes Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
You may give Auburn or whatever challenger emerges from the SEC East a puncher's chance of knocking off the Tide, but smart money says LSU represents Alabama's stiffest test until January. If Alabama survives (and Vegas made them 12-point favorites for a reason), Saban will likely play for his fourth national title in five seasons and any chances of his leaving for Texas - saying nothing to the larger question of whether or not he even wants to leave Alabama, which, again, is a much larger issue - are gone before they could even really arrive.
Depending on how Saturday night goes, Austin may have more television sets observing the events in Tuscaloosa than Morgantown.