Nick Saban was the Browns defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick in the early 90's. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Nick Saban could be the Cleveland Browns' next head coach if new owner Jimmy Haslam hires the right general manager, according to a Boston Globe report.
There have been a lot of rumors around the Browns that NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi could be the next general manager should new team president Joe Banner and owner Jimmy Haslam decide to make a switch after the season.
According to two NFL sources, there is indeed fire behind that smoke.
Lombardi would bring more than just an NFL resume that includes a term as Raiders GM under then owner Al Davis, and front-office positions with the Browns and Broncos.
There’s also the person Lombardi could deliver as head coach: Alabama’s Nick Saban.
According to the NFL sources, Saban has let it be known that if he returns to the NFL — where he flopped, going 15-17 with the Dolphins from 2005-06 — it would likely be with Lombardi playing Scott Pioli to his Bill Belichick.
Saban reportedly regretted accepting the Dolphins job and hiring general manager Randy Mueller, who was not a disciple of Belichick's approach to acquiring and managing personnel. Saban left the NFL to take the Alabama job in 2007.
Mueller, who was a good personnel man when running his own ship with the Saints, had to learn Saban’s system on the fly, and it never really clicked.
Saban first got a taste of Belichick's methods in the early-90's as the Browns defensive coordinator. Lombardi was the team's Director of Player Personnel.
Haslam's role as an influential University of Tennessee booster
, could come into play if he's able to lure Saban away from SEC rival Alabama.