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Nick Saban talk not going away in Cleveland

Nick Saban

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with his team prior to their NCAA college football game against Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday, Nov. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)


As Alabama coach Nick Saban prepares to coach in the college football national championship game on Monday night, he can expect to hear some questions about whether it will be his last game at Alabama.

That’s because new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is believed to be enamored with Saban and interested in hiring him to be the next head coach of the Browns. In fact, the Akron Beacon Journal published a column today saying it’s “obvious” that “Saban is the man Haslam is targeting.”

Frankly, that statement seems like a stretch: There’s no inside information that Haslam actually wants to hire Saban, and there’s no word on whether Saban would be interested. And while it may be obvious to the Akron Beacon Journal that Saban is Haslam’s man, it isn’t obvious to other reporters who cover the Browns, some of whom have reported that Oregon’s Chip Kelly is the man Haslam is targeting.

But while the statement may seem like a stretch, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of it happening. Haslam has long been known as a big booster of Tennessee football and a fan of the SEC, so he has surely been impressed with what he’s seen of Saban. And Saban has always looked for new challenges as a coach, going from the head coach at Toledo to the defensive coordinator of the Browns to the head coach at Michigan State to the head coach at LSU to the head coach of the Dolphins to the head coach at Alabama, and never staying anywhere longer than five years. Never, that is, until Alabama, where he’s concluding his sixth season.

If Saban is getting the itch to take another shot at the NFL, Haslam may very well be willing to give him that shot. The question is whether Saban wants to leave a place where he can compete for the national championship every year to coach an NFL franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs in a decade.