LSU Short Story
Bertman Tries to Keep Saban
What It Means to Be a Tiger: Les Miles and LSU's Greatest Players, Ray Glier (2009)
Skip Bertman was LSU Athletic Director from 2001 to 2008.
We were 3-8 in football (in 1999), and Nick Saban was brought in the next year.
I get a lot of phone calls telling me he's not the nicest guy in the world, but the best foot­ball coach you'll ever see. I was still coaching and I got a phone call from his secretary, Ja'el, who told me, "Coach Bertman, Coach Saban wants to talk to you." He'd only been there like two weeks.
A voice came on, and he said, "This is Coach Saban."
I said, "Hey, Nick, how are things going?"
"What?" he asked.
"How are you doing? How's your family getting along?"
And he said, "Skip, the reason I called was to let you know that I'm okay with baseball players playing football and coming to spring football."
So I told him thanks. I got such a kick out of that. Well, I knew after watching him some he'd be successful because he had a system.

L-R: Skip Bertman, Jimmy Sexton, Wayne Huizenga and Nick Saban
When I took over as AD, he already had a contract. After he beat Illinois [in the 2002 Sugar Bowl], we wanted to give Saban a new contract. I met his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and said, "Listen: instead of a $300,000 bonus for winning the national championship, let's just make sure Nick makes more than Bob Stoops at Oklahoma." Stoops was the high­est-paid guy at $2.1 million or something like that.
He didn't win it that year, but he did the next year, and what break. ... I was hoping he'd win nine games, but of course he won it all. Before the game, I went to Jimmy Sexton, and we worked it out. He would be the highest-paid coach whether he won or lost that game, which is the right thing to do, because one game shouldn't decide it. And he was getting that $300,000 anyway. Now everybody does it.
But the problem with Nick was he was always looking to the pros for the next challenge, and the chancellor was really fed up with it. They had to get permission, so Sexton would call and say, "Carolina Panthers are calling. Is this okay?" Yes. "The Chicago Bears are calling, I'll fax it over right now." Yes. You couldn't say no.
The Bears offered like $3 million. There was always a call. By then it was like, who the hell cares if he goes to the Bears? He did his time and he was killing us with this stuff. So, naturally, he turned the Bears down. The next year he was coming with the Dolphins. Nick called me, because this was serious. Not Jimmy. Nick said, "You're from Miami. You know what it's like."
It go to the point where [Dolphins owner Wayne] Huizenga flew up in his 22-passen­ger customized DC-3. Jimmy didn't want him to go, but they just keep coming at him, giving him whatever he wanted–being assistant general manager, getting more coaches, getting more money–to where finally he got to where he couldn't turn it down. He said to me, "I may never get another shot at the NFL."
I didn't want him to go because I knew my life would change because I'd have to hire a new coach. And whomever I got wouldn't be accepted at the beginning. Steve Spurrier had already signed. Urban Meyer had already signed.
I knew the people wouldn't understand. When Miles was hired, they went nuts.
Anyway, I asked Nick if he was going to take the job, and he said yeah, but he didn't want to announce it until Christmas at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Meanwhile, I went out and started searching.
To be continued ...