Saban said he was impressed that Manning was seeking "more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better." Truthfully, though, it seems likely Saban may have gotten more out of the meetings. His defenses have had issues with no-huddle offenses the past two seasons.
"Since (Denver is) a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them, in terms of what gives them problems and what defensive teams do that give them problems," Saban told ESPN.com. "That was a mutual benefit. I know it was a benefit to us. I hope it was a benefit to them as well."
And it's likely that Saban gleaned some offensive tips from Manning and Gase, as well. Alabama is trying to rev up its passing offense under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, and who better to quiz about passing offenses than one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history?
As for Manning helping the Tide, that's unlikely to go over too well in Knoxville. While he was at Tennessee, Manning was 3-1 as a player against the Tide. But he never played a game in Tuscaloosa; instead, the Vols' two "road" wins against Alabama in that stretch were played in Birmingham, Ala.
Gase has known Saban for almost 20 years. Saban was coach at Michigan State when Gase was a student at the school in the late 1990s. Gase was a sort of student assistant while he was enrolled (a graduate assistant at the time was current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels); after graduation, he worked for Saban as a graduate assistant/recruiting assistant at LSU from 2000-02 before moving on to a scouting job with the Detroit Lions.
Interestingly, the meetings with Saban could mean the Broncos have run afoul of an NFL rule that doesn't allow players to participate in group or individual meetings with coaches before the start of the official offseason workout program. An NFL spokesman told profootballtalk.com that the league is investigating.
Manning also recently dropped by Oklahoma, where he reportedly stopped by during a film session.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.