Two celebrities claim that Nick Saban nearly took the New York Giants job
Actor Tom Arnold, boxing promoter Bob Arum say they have details of a hire that almost was
Every single offseason there are rumors about Nick Saban's potential interest in an NFL team or NFL teams being interested in Nick Saban. Nothing ever happens. But if you believe a couple of celebrities, this past year it almost did.
The celeb who spilled the beans originally on the scoop was actor/comedian Tom Arnold, who told Paul Finebaum over the weekend that the Giants were finalizing a deal with Ben McAdoo when they got a call asking about their interest in Saban.
"So they hired [Ben McAdoo], right, to keep the chemistry together. And they hoped Tom [Coughlin] would stick around. In the meantime, they started negotiating with [McAdoo] and they've got his deal done and they're ready to sign him. And they get a call from [boxing promoter] Bob Arum, [who] says 'Nick Saban wants the job.' So they had to stop, and this is a Saturday night, and they said 'You have until Sunday morning at 8 a.m. to say definite yes, tell us what he needs for money.' Well he needs $10 million to start with, and this is the deal, he has to get it approved by his wife. Well he needs to get it approved by his wife right this second, because we've got a coach on the string here. But if he wants to do it, it has to be right this second. So he had until Sunday morning until 8 a.m. and it didn't work out, but it was close."
As NJ.com points out, the timing is a little odd here. The Giants announced the hire of McAdoo on Jan. 14, 2016, which was a Thursday (and the hire was reported on a Wednesday). That means the Saturday before in question was Jan. 11, which Saban might have an alibi for. Since, you know, he was preparing to coach Alabama to a national championship.
The championship wasn't until Monday, however, so it is plausible.
Also helping the plausibility? Arum, the guy who called the Giants, told the Bergen Record that he did indeed make the call.
Arum says he was approached by Nick Khan, an agent at CAA (where Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton works), who asked about Saban's interest in the Giants.
"Here's what happened," Arum said. "I get a call from Nick Khan, who's an agent at CAA, and is a good friend of mine. He says, 'Bob, I know you're a good friend of Steve Tisch. I have a colleague here at CAA,' and I forget the guy's name, 'who represents Nick Saban. And Saban would be very interested in the Giants job.'
"This was before they hired McAdoo, but after they announced Coughlin was leaving. So I call Steve and I say, 'Hey, Saban would be very interested. I got this call.' Then I tell him the whole story, and that Saban would be interested in the job, what a great coach he is, et cetera, et cetera. The [Post] story said Saban wanted $10 million. I don't remember it being $10 million. But it was a big, big contract. So Steve said he would call me back."
Eventually Tisch called Arum back, apparently after talking with John Mara, and Arum said the Giants were interested but the deal needs to be hammered out in 24 hours because of the timing with the Giants working on a deal with Ben McAdoo.
"I guess [Tisch] talked to [John] Mara," Arum said. "Because he called me back and he said, 'Yes, we would be very interested. But we're on a deadline. We're about to hire somebody else,' which turned out to be McAdoo. 'He's got to get back to us in one day. This has got to be done in one day and it's got to be confidential. If it is, it'll be a go.'"
So Nick Saban and wife talk about it, and that's where the deal falls apart.
"So I called Nick [Khan], who relayed it to his colleague at CAA. They came back and said, 'Nick is delighted. Now he's talking to his wife.' They went so far as to contact real estate agents in New Jersey, for homes in New Jersey," Arum recalled. "Then Nick [Khan] called back the next day and said, 'Call Steve. Tell him Nick can't do it. His wife loves Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She doesn't want to move, so Nick can't take the job.'"
Think about the other hypothetical factors in play here too. If the Giants won't wait until Saban has finished coaching the season at Alabama -- i.e. until after the title game is over -- and Saban tells them yes on Sunday, there's a decent chance it leaks before the title game.
Or maybe Saban loses to Clemson and takes the job and it looks like he's running scared out of Alabama. Or maybe he never wanted the job in the first place and it was all leverage to squeeze some more bucks out of Bama's boosters.
Anything is on the table when it comes to a coaching search, but there are at least two accounts that peg Saban as a legitimately interested candidate in the Giants job. One of them just happens to be Tom Arnold, which should make for an awesome press conference question for Saban later this week.
"Nick, not sure if you saw, but Tom Arnold is reporting that ... "
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