USA Today Sports

Nick Saban expects to visit with numerous friends from West Virginia this weekend, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Those unsubstantiated reports from 2007, the ones alleging Nick Saban’s agent contacted West Virginia about the vacancy Rich Rodriguez left behind, they didn’t seem farfetched to Joe Manchin.

“It might have been me at the time trying to lure him back,” the U.S. Senator joked Wednesday.

Manchin, a friend of the Saban family since childhood, was serving as governor back then. And despite a desire to see his pal coaching the Mountaineers, Manchin thought the real obstacle dated back to 1968 and the program’s reluctance to recruit the all-state Saban out of Monogah High School.

“I think one of the bigger mistakes WVU made was not giving Nick a scholarship,” said Manchin, who was recruited by WVU four years earlier. “Nick Saban was one of the most exceptional young athletes and young scholars to come out of North Central West Virginia. I’ve always thought if he was a WVU alum …”

After winning one national championship at LSU and three more at Alabama, Saban has become arguably the most powerful figure in college football. His Crimson Tide will open the 2014 season against West Virginia on Saturday in Atlanta, and Manchin plans to visit his friend before the game.

“He’s part of my family,” Manchin said. “I always root for him, except Saturday, when I hope WVU pulls the upset.”

Saban turned nostalgic this week, describing his childhood trips to Mountaineer Field as “the highlight of my year.” More than four decades later, Saban lobbied the SEC to invite West Virginia, but the conference took Missouri and Texas A&M instead.

“Because he loves his home state, he tried to do something to help WVU,” said Manchin.

After Texas regents reportedly made a run at Saban in the wake of Mack Brown’s resignation last December, Alabama made him the nation’s highest-paid coach at a public university with a contact worth nearly $7 million annually over the next eight years. Manchin thinks the 62-year-old Saban will ride out his coaching days in Tuscaloosa.

“I’d love to have him back here, but I think he’ll spend the rest of his career at Alabama,” Manchin said. “He has been treated better there than he’s been treated anywhere else, and he’d tell you that.”

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  • MyView

    If blow joe really thinks Coach Saban tried to get WVU into the SEC, then joe is as dumb as we all think he is. If Saban had said anything about wanting WVU in the SEC we would now be in the SEC. Unless the commish of the SEC has the biggest brass set of nuts in the world. Saban should have more influence than anyone with all the ESPN hype he gets. Saban said nothing and smart WVU fans are not buying this BS blow joe

  • Mountain Navy

    Manchin is a Turncoat.

  • WV Farmer

    WVU 3 & 9 at best. Fire mullet boy and don't forget Luck and prayerfully Mojo too.

    • FFA YO

      The farmer is suffering from brain blight.

    • Sick'em

      Stick to farming bro!

      • WV Farmer

        Farmers are not much for dreaming. Get your head out of the clouds. You know I'm right about a losing season, ok MAYBE 5 - 7.


    Appreciate Coach Saban's support of WVU in trying to get to us in the SEC. That would have been my first choice in going to a new conference from a geographical and competitive standpoint. There is just simply no affiliation with any of the Big 12 schools but that is "water under the bridge" at this point.

    I know he wins a lot and people grow tired of his schtick. But I keep going back to him wanting WVU in the SEC and fully appreciate the job he is doing at Alabama.

    Nevertheless, I hope his losing streak grows to 3 games after Saturday. 49 hours and counting until kickoff.

  • Charleston Resident

    Who cares who Manchin roots for? He screwed the team up trying to play manager when Rich Rod was there coaching and had a hand in Rich deciding to leave. Hope to god he does not come back as governor. I'm sure state workers feel the same. At least anyone who may want a raise in the next eight years.

    • Mountain Navy

      West Virginia State workers are some of the lowest paid state workers in America. I work for another state and make 8 grand more a year for doing the same exact job.

    • Cletus

      By God there's the real truth! Charleston Resident! He tried to run WVU when he was Governor. He and his lap dog Eddie Pastilong screwed WVU and it's fan base. He fanned the flames on that deal to cover his daughters ass on that fake diploma scandal. That's guys nothing but a political hack that couldn't get elected as a dog catcher in a real state.

      • Tim C


  • william

    Money sticks with money!

    • william

      I know that makes no sense but just go with it.
      --Go Heard!!!

      • Sick'em

        Williaaaam.....u tooty fruity

  • Shawn H

    We all know he is secretly telling Saban that he wants Alabama to win, much like he rubber stamps O's policies while saying he supports coal.

    • Holgie

      Shawn H. You are spot on!

      • Andy

        You are both ignorant tool bags.

        • Shawn H

          I see your are a liberal. When you have no facts to stand on, you call people names. Typical of a democrat.

          • GoEers

            And what facts do you have?

  • mikeyd

    i wonder if he got nicks daughter a free master degree

  • justin

    i wonder how good saban would be and how many championships he would win coaching @ wvu... what do you think?

    • Rob


  • Big Larry

    Just wanted everyone to know I am gearing up for the big game Saturday...and yes I am pulling for the Mountaineers to win!

    I have my 32 inch Big Screen set up in the Basement and I plan to go to Krogers today and buy a generous supply of Coke Zero and Cheetos.

    Mom doesn't have cable so I have to stream the game on Firstrow Sports. Hopefully I wont get any viruses...Mom hates it when that happens.

    My prediction: Alabama 31 WVU 14

  • Independent View

    Manchin REALLY BELIEVES that somebody gives two-hoots about his opinion on sports??? I do not give two-hoots about his opinions on any given subject, let alone sports!
    Is there ANY subject Joe that you do not hold yourself forth as an expert on and now it's sports!
    FYI Joe, the majority of the huddled masses in WV do not wait with baited breath of your every insignificant and self-serving utterance!

    • Allan Taylor

      In fairness to the senator, I reached out to him for this interview, considering his longstanding connection to Saban. He wasn't seeking a media opp to talk football.

      • MountainBuckeye

        But you gave him the media opportunity and he clearly took advantage of this.

        • GoEers

          Joe Manchin played for WVU. What have u done fur this state buckeye fan?

      • notorious

        Washington politicians are all corrupt, lying, immoral scumbags.

        Please keep them out of sports articles. This is where we come to forget about the train wreck our country has become under the "leadership" of these " civil servants. "

      • PMQ

        Allen, I would reach elsewhere.....

  • DWM

    I really like Saban, great coach and a terrific representative of the State of WV.

    Joe, not so much. I'd like to see the voters in WV bring an end to Joe's illustrious political career here soon.

    • Andy

      I can't wait until he's Governor again.

      • susanf1218

        Why?? Did he promise you a position in his administration??

      • susanf1218

        Then you, sir, are an idiot! Unless, of course, you are being sarcastic - in which case, I applaud your biting wit!

  • John

    And que the cheap political comments, most of you would never survive in politics because you only know how to call people names like you were still in elementary school.

    • PMQ

      I disagree John. The bar has been set very low.

  • Protechcpa

    This is much less a story than Clint Trickett's first kiss. The very thought of what the anti gun, rubber stamp of the Democrat party Joe Manchin has to say about anything makes me sick. He is a disgrace to WV and is completely irrelevant to WVU sports. I hope he sits in the Bama section at the game. WV cannot survive much more of his "support" in any form.


    I have heard all I need to hear about our native West Virginian Nick Saban to make an opinion about him, He is a good West Virginian no doubt
    " Saban lobbied the SEC to invite West Virginia"
    when we needed help, he tried.... that is all I need to know, I like him...Not much he can do to change that.

    That is all we could ask of a fellow Mountaineer . We didn't even offer the man a schollie back in his day as a athlete in West Virginia.