Saban having too much fun, success to leave Alabama for NFL

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Seriously, why would Nick Saban want to leave all this?

Boredom, maybe. Fatigue, perhaps. Alabama's biggest obstacle at this point might be the system itself. In two seasons, it would have to win two of these games in a playoff to capture what would be at the time its fourth consecutive championship. That could flat-out just tucker a dynasty out.

For now it's two in a row, three out of the last four and no end in sight.

"Why would he [leave]?," said a raspy-voiced Scott Cochran, Alabama's strength coach on the floor of Sun Life Stadium on Monday night. "This is so much fun. How can you imagine being somewhere else in the world? There isn't a better place."

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And with that another rendition of Sweet Home Alabama blared through the loudspeakers. In a stadium where Saban made what little NFL head coaching reputation he has -- "My credibility wasn't much" -- the man burnished his everlasting rep as a college coach.

There are 32 NFL teams that, at least secretly, covet Alabama's coach. That's the league where Saban said last week he has no unfinished business. That comment left the door ajar just enough to cover himself in case of, you know, boredom with the whole college thing.

That's about the only thing that would take him away from this nirvana with a drawl, this Million Dollar Band and program. Alabama won again leaving the whole SEC BCS streak in its way. Sure the Strength Everywhere Conference has won seven titles in a row. But Alabama has given it some definition, some identity.

"In the NFL you can't even predict who's going to the Super Bowl," receiver Amari Cooper said. "In college it's predictable."

At Alabama, it's a certainty.

There has to be only one place where unfinished business matters for Saban now. That's in T-town where he could become the greatest coach of all-time, at least in terms of numbers. Monday's 42-14 whipping of Notre Dame marked his fourth championship, third at Alabama. He is two away from Bear Bryant, which would spark one of the greatest debates in sports history.

Who's better?

We'll leave that for future coffee table books. What's more important to some -- maybe even Saban -- is that he is perceived as the greatest coach. The time could come when his name rolls off the tongue and pops up on Wikipedia when the subject is raised.

The man has now played in six AP No. 1 vs. No. 2 games, winning five of them. The consecutive BCS titles are a first. (USC split the 2003 AP title and won the 2004 BCS title.) Only two other programs have won three titles in four years -- Notre Dame in the 1940s and Nebraska in the 1990s.

No program has won three in a row. Ever. Alabama is one season away. It's OK to say it out loud, in mixed company. Alabama has established a dynasty. Just don't tell the coach.

"I don't think words like 'dynasty' are really words that I'm much interested in," Saban said.

That's because this epic, glorious win will be a memory in the mastermind's mind by Wednesday.

"We're going to enjoy it for 24 hours," he said.

And then he's going to start pumping out more Nico Johnsons.

"Being around Coach Saban so much I've turned into a perfectionist," said Johnson, a linebacker and one of six scholarship seniors who had one heck of a walk-off performance.

They all will have three championships rings to flash in public, stuff in a safety deposit box, show the grandkids. A lot of Saban had rubbed off on Johnson. He/they wanted another shutout in the BCS title game just like last year against LSU. Never mind that the game was over about the time Michael Williams caught a short touchdown pass to make it 14-0 less than nine minutes into the game.

"At 14-0, they kind of lost their energy," offensive linemen D.J. Fluker said of the Irish.

Notre Dame had reason. All it had to do was watch tape of Alabama in this game. In 2009, Marcell Dareus took out Colt McCoy on the fifth snap of the game. Last year, LSU didn't cross the 50 until the fourth quarter. Down 21-0 four seconds into the second quarter Monday, the Irish already had given up more points than they had total since Nov. 3 (19).

Bama has won these three championship games by a combined 99-36. Monday's marked the second-largest margin of victory in the BCS era.

"It can continue as long as we want it," said All-American cornerback Dee Milliner. "As long as we buy into what is preaching."

The GOAT label (greatest of all time) is all that's left for Saban. Alabama has been so dominant in the past four years it has more national championships (three) than SEC titles (two). Its 49 wins tie 1997 Nebraska for the most by a senior class. Saban and the Tide have this sport wired better than Kanye West's home studio.

And the man might have 10 good years left in him if not more.

Being conservative here, but you've got to believe Saban is good for three more titles, at least. There's no end to the players who will be flocking to Tuscaloosa. One of them who already has, Landon Collins, plays on special teams.

Last year, Collins was one of the most coveted players in the country out of Geismar, La. On national television, the defensive back committed to Alabama to the obvious disgust of his mother who was sitting nearby. She is an LSU fan and let the world basically know her son had made a mistake. That was until the two embraced after the game.

"I told you so," Collins whispered to mom.

Collins then recalled the recruiting pitch.

"Definitely, that's one of the first things they said to me, I could play for championships," said Collins who as a freshman still has three crystal footballs to chase.

The crusade goes on. Cochran says he is taking an NCAA-mandated two weeks off before getting back in the weight room where, "Believe me," he said. "I'll have a million young kids in there."

Nico the Perfectionist walked out of the locker room for the last time with those three rings and a promise.

"Coach has done something special," he said. "He's not going anywhere."

The NFL can't be this gleeful. More money can't be that important. Alabama won again and the only sport with a similar chokehold is MMA.

"Whether I look it or not," Saban said, "I'm happy as hell."

But check back in 24 hours.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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