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New York Giants twice passed on Nick Saban as head coach

Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks

Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Nick Saban was in play for the Giants’ head-coaching job in 1997, but the Giants wound up hiring a promising offensive coordinator instead.

Did that happen again in January?

Comedian Tom Arnold told ESPN’s Paul Finebaum on Friday that Saban, the longtime Alabama head coach, sent word to the Giants through intermediaries that he might have interest in their head-coaching job when the team parted ways with Tom Coughlin. The Giants wound up hiring offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but not before reportedly showing interest in Saban.

Nineteen years ago, with Saban coaching at Michigan State and reported to be a favorite of general manager George Young and assistant general manager Ernie Accorsi, who knew Saban as a Browns assistant coach, the Giants hired Jim Fassel. Saban went on to coach at LSU and then Alabama, where he has won three national championships since 2009. Saban also had an unsuccessful stint as the Dolphins’ head coach before going to Alabama.

Saban, whose team is off this weekend, has not commented on the report.

Boxing promoter Bob Arum told The Record of Hackensack on Saturday that he served as an intermediary between the Giants and Saban to see if the Giants had interest. Arum, a Giants season-ticket holder since 1957, is friends with Giants co-owner Steve Tisch.

“I get a call from Nick Khan, who’s an agent at CAA and is a good friend of mine,” Arum told The Record. “He says, ‘Bob, I know you’re a good friend of Steve Tisch. I have a colleague here at CAA who represents Nick Saban, and Saban would be very interested in the Giants’ job.’ This was before they hired McAdoo, but after they announced Coughlin was leaving.”

Arum said he was told the Giants would have interest, but that because they were on the verge of hiring McAdoo, who also was pursued by the Eagles, any deal would have to come together quickly.

Said Arum, “I guess [Tisch] talked to [Giants president John] Mara, because he called me back and he said, ‘Yes, we would be very interested. But we’re on a deadline. We’re about to hire somebody else,’ which turned out to be McAdoo. ‘He’s got to get back to us in one day. This has got to be done in one day and it’s got to be confidential. If it is, it’ll be a go.’ ”

Arum said Saban and his wife contacted real estate agents in New Jersey but that Saban ultimately backed out of a potential deal because his wife preferred to live in Tuscaloosa.


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