NFL teams that have been inquiring about Alabama coach Nick Saban in recent days and weeks have been told in no uncertain terms: thanks, but no thanks.
At least so far. Some franchises with vacancies have sent feelers toward Saban and the Alabama camp regarding his seriousness about returning to the NFL. He has told these inquirers that he isn't coming back.
The fact that NFL teams are violating protocol about contacting a college coach before the season ends isn't a surprise. The fact that teams are pursuing Saban isn't a surprise.
Though Saban has done one thing and said another before -- see Dolphins, Miami -- the fact that he's saying no so forcibly is perhaps the greatest indicator that he's serious about staying at Alabama. This is the indication after speaking to NFL teams and other football officials in recent days.
One team official said Saban is using a line from former Atlanta coach Jerry Glanville, that the NFL stands for "Not For Long," meaning, the life of an NFL coach is short -- whereas a good college coach can last much longer.
It's unclear which teams have contacted Alabama. Several league sources say most, if not all of them, have reached out to Saban in some unofficial capacity, and Saban or his camp has been extremely clear about his intentions.
This time, by saying he's staying, Saban might actually be saying what he means.