Alabama won its fourth national championship under head coach Nick Saban, which continues to have some notable LSU fans and alums wondering what could have been.
On the recent episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal and co-host John Kincade briefly discussed the recent national championship game between Alabama and Clemson. Shaq, an alum of LSU, showed little interest in praising Saban for winning his fourth national title at Alabama and instead made a point to say LSU should have paid Saban more years ago.
“We had him at LSU first. If we would have paid him the money, that would be us right now,” O’Neal said. “Everything’s about money.”
In 2004, Saban signed a seven-year contract with LSU that paid him $2.3 million per year, which made him the highest paid college football coach shortly after leading the Tigers to a BCS national championship. The deal supposedly silenced any speculation about Saban accepting an offer from an NFL team. After one more season at LSU, Saban accepted a job offer from the Miami Dolphins with a contract paying Saban $4.5 million per year.
Confronted with the idea there was more to Saban’s decision to move to the NFL to coach the Miami Dolphins, Shaq brushed aside the concept and said money spoke volumes.
“I am LSU. Love Shaq University. I know everything that goes on on those grounds,” O’Neal went on. “If the Dolphins offered him six [million] and LSU came back and said ‘hey, we’ll offer you 10,’ what do you think he going to do?”
It is fun to think how things may have been different had LSU managed to keep Saban in Baton Rouge. Today, Saban is the highest-paid coach in college football, pulling in over $7 million per year. At LSU, Saban’s replacement, Les Miles, is earning $4.3 million.