Shaq: LSU could be Alabama if the Tigers paid Nick Saban


LSU basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal believes that his alma mater could have prevented Nick Saban from bolting to the NFL in 2004.

On December 26th, 2004 — nearly one year from the date when the LSU football program claimed its first national title in almost half a century — the head coach that got the Tigers there, Nick Saban, bolted for the greener pastures of the NFL.

Saban accepted a head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins, where he would flame out after two pedestrian seasons and return to the college football coaching ranks with the SEC rival Alabama Crimson Tide.

Since Saban’s arrival at Alabama in 2007, he has won four national championships and created a dynasty in Tuscaloosa. Saban is currently riding a five-game winning streak over the Bayou Bengals.

LSU basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has a particularly strong opinion on the subject.

During a recent episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq, the former LSU star opened up about what his alma mater needed to do to retain Saban, claiming that the Tigers would be the marquee team in college football right now if they had done so.

"“We had him at LSU first,” Shaq said. “If we would have paid him the money, that would be us right now. Everything’s about money.”"

According to O’Neal, Saban would have never left the Tigers for the NFL if LSU would have offered the head coach a significant pay raise.

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"“I am LSU. Love Shaq University,” Shaq went on to say. “I know everything that goes on on those grounds. 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?”"

Shaq’s opinion holds a significant amount of weight in the LSU community, and rightfully so. But in this instance, it is difficult to agree with his stance.

Saban was a rising star in the coaching ranks after winning a national championship with LSU during the 2003 season. He was not the coaching legend that he is today.

When Saban left the Tigers, he was satisfying an urge to try his hand at the NFL level, and there was not much that LSU could have done to prevent that.