Add the Indianapolis Colts to the list of NFL teams — including the Bears — that had brushes with Nick Saban but weren’t willing to cede to him the kind of organizational control, or money, that he has brandished at successful coaching stints with LSU and Alabama.
Based on an upcoming biography of Saban, the Colts were close to offering their head coaching job to Saban in 1998, the same year that they would choose Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf with the top pick of the draft. Like the New York Giants two years earlier, the Colts eventually veered away after Saban insisted on roster and staff control that the Giants refused to give to a coach.
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The Bears were part of the broader Saban discussion.
Back in 2004 the Bears made a run at hiring Saban, a friend of Jerry Angelo’s from the year (1977) that Saban spent as an assistant to Angelo on the Syracuse coaching staff. Saban was the first choice to succeed Dick Jauron after the latter was fired following the 2003 season.
Sources told CSNChicago.com that after long hours of negotiations, Angelo and Saban had reached an understanding on the issue of personnel. The situation blew up, however, when President Ted Phillips refused to commit the Bears to money in the range of the $4 million Saban demanded.
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Phillips did the Bears a favor.
Saban did take an NFL job, coaching the Miami Dolphins in 2005-06. After two seasons with a combined 15-17 record, Saban repeatedly denied he would leave to coach Alabama, which he did in early January 2007.