When the AP first reported news of a January phone call between Texas administrators and Nick Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton, Saban said he didn't know anything about it, and that he's too old to start somewhere else. New documents indicate the call took place, and not only did Sexton tell UT officials Texas was the only job Saban would consider, but it seems Sexton was the one that reached out to Texas.
Through a FOIA request, the Associated Press has obtained a number of emails from former UT regent Tom Hicks discussing the 45-minute phone conversation.
"Sexton confirmed that UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for, and that his success there created special pressure for him," Hicks wrote in the email to brother and current Regent Steve Hicks.
Another Regent, Wallace Hall, had previously said an unknown person from Saban's camp reached out to him to set up an introduction with Sexton. Tom Hicks's outgoing emails seem to confirm that. He wrote that his brother Steve had told him "an agent had made contact to say Saban could have interest in UT." Also, that Hall told him that a "very confidential friend had heard from Jimmy Sexton, Saban's agent, and that he was willing to have a call."
This alone means nothing, of course. It's entirely possibly Saban is just looking for leverage for a raise—when he got his last extension from Alabama, with a pay hike, he noted that he had received other job offers. (He also said he was committed to Bama for "the rest of our career."
But Texas administrators thought there was enough there to see what they could do about getting rid of Mack Brown, who's under contract until 2020. Two days after the phone call, Tom Hicks met with Brown and gently probed the possibility of Brown retiring.
"We told Sexton that Mack had leadership's support to stay and that I would go talk to him as a friend to see if Mack had any interest in retiring," Tom Hicks wrote."I told him it would have to be Mack's idea."
Tom Hicks met Brown over lunch to tell Brown about Saban and "wanted him to know of Saban's interest if Mack wanted to make it his idea," Hicks wrote. "Mack was adamant that he had no interest, and that he wanted to go out on top and leave UT in great place."
Brown was apparently so upset at what he perceived was adminstration trying to pressure him out the door that he called his lawyer, who has threatened legal action if any more overtures to that effect are made. "If there are any more" attorney Joe Jamail said in September, "get ready for a lawsuit."
Brown has quieted campus discontent by stringing together a winning streak after a tough start to the season, but he's lost his closest ally, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, who stepped down. Yesterday it was announced that he'll be replaced by Arizona State's Steve Patterson, but with just a season-and-a-half of AD experience, the Regents likely wield all the power in UT sports.
Sexton declined comment on the contents of the emails concerning Saban, while Saban wasn't made available to the media after yesterday's practice.