University of Texas

Former Texas regent offers more proof Nick Saban was really headed for Austin

Remember that time Nick Saban was rumored to be headed to Austin to take over the Texas Longhorns for Mack Brown?

Those rumors and unsubstantiated reports (including a regrettable tweet from yours truly) in December 2013 never materialized. But not because they weren’t accurate.

Alabama fans on social media at the time were incredulous and outraged about the reports. To them, the idea that Saban would leave Tuscaloosa for Austin was incomprehensible. For most of us outside of Alabama, the opposite is incomprehensible.

There have been books and numerous magazine and newspaper stories over the years detailing what exactly did go down six years ago.

Add to that evidence an interview with former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, a former Texas regent who was one of the few on the inside during the Saban/Texas episode. Hicks was a guest on KCTK/1310 AM hosts Corby Davidson’s podcast Your Turn with Corby Davidson, which was posted on June 27. During the hour-long interview, Hicks explained just how closely Saban was to coming to Texas.

“Another regent and I had the conversation with Saban’s agent [Jimmy Sexton] and he said … he’d like to create his legacy that he’s won national championships at more schools than anybody else,” Hicks said. “He’s done it at LSU and Alabama, and he knows he can win a national championship at Alabama.”

Over lunch, Hicks told Brown about the conversation he had with Sexton. Hicks said he was under the impression that Brown was ready to retire.

“So I said, ‘Mack, I want to tell you about a conversation I had with Jimmy Sexton. If you want to retire, I think you can graciously have Nick Saban come in and take your place and have it be your idea. That might be a nice way for you to end it,’” Hicks said.

But, as has been reported before, the idea didn’t sit well with Brown, Hicks said.

“Mack Brown turned bright red. Steam started coming out of his ears, and he said, ‘That guy is not coming here to win a national championship with my players,’” Hicks said.

The idea, the house-hunting in Austin by wife Terry Saban, the whole plan blew up. As soon as reports leaked (sorry!) Saban bailed.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.