By Martin Rickman
December 11, 2013

Nick Saban Nick Saban points toward the next step in his journey, beckoning to the inevitable. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There's enough smoke to this Nick Saban-to-Texas thing to baffle a National Fire Academy training class. It's clear that the Alabama coach is poised for a massive payday, but where he ends up remains to be seen. Message board warriors are leaving no stone unturned. Radio hosts are letting takes wash over them like water from a hot springs. National reporters are bitterly shaking their heads while keeping their fingers glued to their smartphones. And all this comes amid the speculation surrounding Mack Brown's future, which is seemingly all but sealed.

In another time or context, this would make for great movie fodder. Heck, if Mel Gibson hadn't gone and messed things up for himself, it'd be prime material for the Australian actor/director to cover and embellish, just as he did in The Patriot and Braveheart. What follows is a portion of the screenplay from The Battle for Saban, with Gibson in the title role.

*Note: This is clearly satire and in no way, shape or form is meant to be taken as true events. That said, I'm not ruling out this is how it will all go down.

The Battle for Saban


A man stands alone atop a raised hill. He is wearing a straw hat, a polo shirt and khakis. The sun peeking from behind the hill sprays light on the man as his shadow reaches far beyond, making his stature seem significant.

The man sighs.

He turns and walks down the hill, stopping for a moment to gaze one final time at the field below.


One older man sits behind a desk talking with another younger man, who sits in a chair facing the first man. The room is filled with artifacts from another time. The color burnt orange permeates every aspect of the area.


I just don't know if this is the right thing to do. We've left well enough alone for a long time now. The treaty signed by our ancestors clearly states we stay on our line and they on theirs. Disrupting that balance would be catastrophic.


You don't understand. This is our chance to take control. A move like this at this time could mean everything. We might not get another chance. Damn the treaty. It was signed by men we've never met and never seen. The world is different now.


He is different. He could be the key to it all.


If we're going to do it, it has to be soon. We have to have everyone at the ready. We're weak. They can tell. Rival groups -- the Aggie clan, the Red Raider clan, the Bear clan -- can sense it. Our cavalry is set in the back. Our archers have been forced to the front lines. Everything is upside down. If we don't do something now, everything we've worked for, everything our families have worked for, will perish.


What makes you think he'll come to our side?


Let me worry about that.

He shouts toward another person off screen.


Fetch me a squire. Here's what we have to do.


The man in the straw hat, NICK SABAN, sits at a table with his wife TERRY. There are silver serving dishes strewn about displaying exotic arrays of Little Debbie cakes. There are various weather instruments of unknown origin meticulously placed on a buffet table in one corner of the room.

Terry pours Nick some coffee from a well-adorned carafe.


I've never seen you so distraught. What's troubling you, darling?


Something seems wrong. There's trouble coming, but I can't put my finger on it.


It's probably just the wind. You know how you get when the weather changes.


It's not that. There's unrest in The Process. I can feel it. I want you to pack a bag. Go to your Aunt Gertrude's in the east.


But ...


There's no time to waste. I'll send word when it's safe to return.

Terry exits the room.

A scowling Nick grabs an oatmeal creme pie from one of the trays and pauses. He takes a bite and nods.


In the shadows, two men meet. One man is wearing a dark suit with a burnt orange BOW TIE. The other, HARVEY UPDYKE, is wearing all crimson, all the way down to his shoes. His sweatshirt merely reads "ROLL TIDE."

The first man chews on a toothpick. Harvey flicks a lighter in the manner in which a person would out of habit.


Now you would do anything for coach Saban, wouldn't you?


Of course. Anything. You know that. Everyone knows that. What's this all about?


We need you to do something important. Very important. It's for the good of the program.


Wait a minute. This won't get me into any trouble, will it?


Of course not.


I'm listening.


Coach is in trouble. Things are going to be very different, very soon. What you're going to do will set off a series of events that could alter the course of history. If you succeed, you'll be remembered forever.


I don't know about all that. I just love Alabama football.


I know you do.

The dapper man pulls an envelope out of his jacket pocket.

BOW TIE (cont.):

Here are instructions for what you'll have to do next. Do exactly as they say.

Updyke is handed the envelope. He opens it, reading what is inside. His eyes open wide.


Are you sure?


We need you.

The man in the bow tie walks away, disappearing in the shadows.

Shaking, Updyke stares at the paper. He places the envelope in his pants pocket.


Nick Saban wakes up. There's smoke billowing into his bedroom. In a panic, he puts on clothes. He's scrambling, searching for something. He finds his hat. He touches the door lightly with his left hand, then grabs the handle and opens it.

Smoke is everywhere. Flames lick the staircase, crawling upward like ivy. Saban barrels down the stairs, putting his hat to his mouth. Part of the roof collapses, blocking his path to the front door. He doubles back, making for the kitchen through the parlor. He grabs an oatmeal pie off the table in his frenzy, then dives into the kitchen as more sections of the house crumble around him. He opens the kitchen door, running through as the fire follows after him.

The whole house is ablaze, and Nick stares. His hand makes a fist, crushing the delicious treat in his grasp.


Saban is visibly upset. He paces. There is a conference table separating Saban from another man, JIMMY SEXTON, wearing jeans and a gray sport coat.


I can't take this anymore. The world is crashing down around me. This town is two seconds away from eating itself whole.


Now, Nick, this isn't a big deal. It could have been anything. We have to wait for the police report to come in. It could've been a gas leak, or maybe you left a candle lit.

Nick glares.

JIMMY (cont.):

Or maybe not.


Have they contacted you again recently? I know you have fielded their inquiries in the past.


As a matter of fact, a squire arrived today.




Same as before. They seem committed to bringing you in.


My family is here.


What's here? Your home is a pile of ashes. It couldn't hurt to speak with them. What's the worst that can happen?


A montage runs of battle scenes. A group clad in orange rides in on enormous steers, charging toward gigantic men wearing houndstooth-patterned armor on elephants. Lives are lost. The music rises to meet the action. Overseeing the fight are the young man and old man, both with their arms crossed.


You see? I've never seen our base so excited. He hasn't even formally accepted our offer.


That is what I'm worried about. What if this is all for naught?


It can't be. He was steadfast in his resolve. The day is ours. All of this: (BEAT.)

He extends his arm, waving it toward the fracas below.

YOUNG MAN (cont.):

It'll all be ours. The nation will learn not to mess with --

A RIDER approaches.


Sir, there's a problem.


Nick Saban is wearing a vest and his hat, along with freshly pressed pants. He is on a higher ridge than the others, a considerable crowd that has gathered below. More join every moment. Men and women in burnt orange -- and in crimson. Some in cars, some on bikes, some on foot. A flute and violins can be heard in the distance.


I am Nick Saban. And I see a whole team of my fans here in defiance of tyranny. You've come to root as free men. And free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you join?

One man steps forward from the crowd.


Against that? We will cheer, and we will live.


Aye. Join and you may lose. Cheer and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the games from this day to that for one chance -- just one chance -- to come back here and tell the administrators and the presidents and the athletic directors that they may take our sport, but they'll never take our freedom?

The crowd rises and swells. Cheering can be heard in the valleys below.

Amidst a sea of people trying to shake hands and pat him on the back, Saban walks through the group, which parts to let him past.

A boy crosses his path.


Where will you go?

Nick Saban pauses. He takes a breath. He looks off in the distance.


There's a place I've only heard rumored. A place where all men can be free. You can join me. You all can join me. Put down your foam fingers, your hand warmers, your poms. Wipe the paint from your face. Together we can all be brothers. Together, in Ypsilanti.

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