Christmas came a little early this year for Alabama football fans.
Nick Saban, the only coach in Southeastern Conference history to win three national championships in a four-year stretch, told ESPN.com this week that he doesn't expect to guide any other team but the Crimson Tide. There has been speculation in recent years about Saban leaving for the NFL or other prominent college jobs such as Texas, with the latest involving him taking over the Indianapolis Colts.
"I don't see it ever happening, and I know every year somebody has me going somewhere else," Saban said. "I think a lot of it isn't just about the coaching part. What people don't understand is they forget you're a person. They forget you have a wife and two kids and a grandbaby, and they all live in Birmingham."
"They all work here. My wife goes to Birmingham five times a week. My mom lives in Birmingham now after moving from Myrtle Beach. It's not just the job. A lot of people don't get that. My life is here."
Saban is the only coach to advance his program to each of the first two editions of the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide were bounced in the semifinals last season by Ohio State but have returned to face Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Eve.
The Tide qualified for the four-team field — Clemson faces Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, next Thursday's other semifinal — by beating Florida in the SEC title game on Dec. 5. That made Alabama the league's first back-to-back champion since Tennessee in 1997-98.
Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007 after a two-year stint with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, which followed a five-year run at LSU that included the 2003 BCS championship. He also led LSU to the 2001 SEC title, which is when Steve Spurrier left Florida after 12 seasons that included six league championships and the 1996 national title.
Spurrier, who coached the Washington Redskins for two years after leaving Florida, referenced at the time of his departure the lofty annual expectations that had been created in Gainesville. High hopes have been a fixture in Tuscaloosa since the Tide's 12-0 regular season in 2008, but Saban doesn't view that as a reason to leave.
"I guess I don't really think about it that way," Saban told ESPN. "If anything, it's trying to always be able to overcome the obstacles to continue to be that successful. That's what is always on my mind, knowing what it's going to take, whether it's in recruiting, staff or internal attitude and chemistry, to be able to accomplish what we all want to accomplish.
"I know a day is coming where that standard can't be met. You cannot keep that up. There's going to be some period of time where you're not at that level. If you look at every coach's record, it's just not possible to sustain that level of success all the time."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.