Big Blue Nation can't have Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats

With Calipari leaving Kentucky for Arkansas, the Wildcats will make a strong move to hire Nate Oats .. and Nate will say thanks, but no thanks to the Big Blue Nation.
Cheryl Evans-Arizona Republic

No Big Blue Nation, you can't have Nate Oats. The Alabama basketball head coach, fresh off a Final Four appearance will remain in Tuscaloosa. There has not been time for any official response from Oats or Alabama, so Nate staying must be speculated for now.

It is not wild speculation given that Oats and Alabama recently executed a contract extension making Oats one of college basketball's highest-paid coaches. Included in the new deal is that if Oats leaves for another program, a $18M buyout must be paid.

That is a high buyout for a basketball coach, even one on the side like Nate Oats. It has been reported that Bruce Pearl's and Danny Hurley's buyouts are around $7M and the buyout for Baylor's Scott Drew is less than $5M.

A guess is Kentucky would gladly pay the $18M buyout to get Oats. They had been contemplating shelling out $30M-plus to get rid of John Calipari. The Kentucky program would probably even be willing to make Oats college basketball's highest-paid coach.

There are reasons to believe that if Oats gets a Kentucky offer, his decision will not be driven by money. One reason is Alabama AD, Greg Byrne is astute. No school will outsmart Byrne. It is inconceivable that before Oats and Byrne inked the recent deal, Byrne did not ask what it would take to lock Oats down. It is equally inconceivable that Oats' satisfactory answer to Byrne is one he would renege on. Nate Oats is not that kind of person. In recent days, Oats talked about Byrne glowingly, calling him a friend and the college world's best AD.

There is another reason for Oats to be wary of Kentucky. The Wildcats have a history of running off top coaches. John Calipari is not the first. The same thing happened to Eddie Sutton and to Tubby Smith.

A counterargument to the claim Oats will turn Kentucky down is that he could be an even bigger success in Lexington with its pull of top talent. But Nate Oats can win championships at Alabama and maybe just as soon as he could win one with Kentucky.

Some part of a decision by Oats must include what is best for his family, financially and in other ways. No one should suggest any decision will be an easy one. The Kentucky program can entice with a money offer almost impossible to refuse.

Another hunch is exchanges between go-betweens have gone on for at least a couple of days. They didn't start at 10 PM Sunday with the Calipari news. Late Saturday night, Kristen Saban tweeted "If you thought Oats was leaving you're silly." Kristen is not part of any deal-making, but Nate Oats has such respect for Nick the two of them likely talked. The situation is not identical, but Texas used a 'Brinks truck' approach with Saban more than once. Money alone was not enough for Nick and hopefully, it will not be for Nate.