TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama head coach Nick Saban is no stranger to the rumors surrounding head coaching vacancies. He has left multiple jobs for greener pastures elsewhere, and knows the benefits and difficulties of leaving one place for another.
Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain is a former offensive coordinator under Saban at Alabama and now appears to be the prime target for the head coaching vacancy at Florida. He has met with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley in person and is still in the running for the job, even with his $7.5 million buyout.
McElwain’s CSU team has gone 10-2 this season, led by Alabama transfer running back Dee Hart, who has 1,254 yards rushing and 16 rushing touchdowns this season for the Rams.
Saban wished McElwain an enjoyable ride on the coaching carousel, but said he has not talked to his former assistant about it.
“I certainly hope these things work out and it’s great for his family,” Saban said. “I’m sure he’ll do a great job if he ends up taking a different job.”
Saban didn’t mention Florida specifically as the most likely landing spot for McElwain, but it was clear he is aware of the news surrounding the Rams head coach.
The 63-year-old Saban repeatedly denied rumors throughout last season about leaving for Texas, claiming he didn’t want to leave Alabama and was too old to start over somewhere new.
He noted on Wednesday how difficult it can be to leave one place for another, even going as far as to say that he would never do it again — not that Alabama fans needed any reassurance with his contract now extended through January 2022.
“I don’t care what situation you’re in. When you have relationships some place with a team and players which you’ve recruited, it’s not easy to just pick up and leave,” he said. “I’ve done that way too many times, and it’s just really, really hard. I never want to do it again, to be honest with you.
“I’m sure that, even though this is an outstanding opportunity for [McElwain], I’m sure it’s very difficult as well to leave the team that won 10 games and played their heart out for you.”