Nick Saban once viewed winning the Super Bowl as his holy grail -- the one thing he needed to do to feel a complete sense of achievement before retiring.
However, the coach says he put that out of mind after he returned to the college coaching ranks in 2007 at Alabama, where he's led the Crimson Tide to four national championships, including last season's.
"I guess there was a time when I said, 'OK if you win a national championship in college, because I was a pro coach for however many years I was, it's time to go win the Super Bowl. That would make my career complete,'" Saban told The MMQB. "But when I did that, I found out that I missed some of these things about college that were really important to me. So you learn about yourself. I just decided when I came back here, I wasn't going to think about that anymore.
"I used to think at the end of the day, being a head coach in the NFL was the No. 1 thing. But when I got to that, it was like, well maybe you already had the No. 1 thing for you and what you like."
Saban completed his only NFL head coaching stint in 2006, when he capped off two seasons with the Dolphins, in which he compiled a record of 15-17, by making his infamous departure for Alabama.
If the NFL scratch was one Saban, 64, felt he had to itch, he could have given the NFL another go -- he says he's had chances. In January, he said he didn't feel motivated to take any other job, and these new comments shed a little more light into why.
"I've had other opportunities to go to the NFL and I've just chosen not to do it," Saban said. "Look, I love the NFL. I have no problem with the NFL. The one thing about college coaching that always appealed to me is the chance to impact young people at a critical time in their development. Having a good program gives you positive self-gratification. In the NFL, it's strictly about bringing in the best and evaluating the best players for your team and managing the business part."
Maybe an NFL opportunity too tempting to turn down will present itself to Saban before he decides to retire (something he says he's not looking to do), or perhaps he'll never be interested enough to pick up the phone if he gets another NFL call. We're guessing he hasn't taken his last call from the league, though.