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Peyton Manning visits Nick Saban; Tennessee fans (and NFLPA) squirm

Nick Saban

Nick Saban

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For a day or so, two of the most beloved Tennessee sports figures were in the state of Alabama.

Bruce Pearl, of course, is the new coach at Auburn. And now Peyton Manning and Nick Saban are trading football tips.


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The former Volunteers quarterback and his Denver Broncos offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, spent time with Saban and his staff trading knowledge. Gase worked for Saban at Michigan State and LSU. The meeting, one of several visits Saban said Manning has made in the offseason, was mutually beneficial.

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Both Saban and Manning are coming off shocking postseason losses ‚ Alabama losing 45-31 to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and the Broncos losing 43-8 to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

“To be honest with you, he was just trying to learn so he could be a better player,” Saban said at his post-practice press conference. "I think a lot of people would say, 'Wow, the guy is one of the best, if not the best, and certainly from a career standpoint probably about as good as anybody's been in the history of the league.’ After all the experience and knowledge that he has, he's going out and trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.”

Saban said he talked to Manning about the no-huddle offense and what gives him trouble from a defensive standpoint. Alabama, of course, faces its share of up-tempo teams in the SEC West. Not to mention the team in Knoxville.

Tennessee fans seem to be taking it well:

The real party to be a little upset, though, might be the NFLPA. By meeting with Gase, Manning may have committed a violation of the CBA, according to Pro Football Talk. The Collective Bargaining Agreement forbids players from meeting with their NFL coaches before the official start of the offseason program.

Manning isn’t the only figure to visit. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano also visited Saban and his staff during the spring.

“I guess the best way to answer the question is who's doing who a favor?” Saban said “Sometimes we have people that we ask to come in because we want to learn from them. The goals that you have for next year are basically the things that you struggled with last year. You make a list of those things through your quality control, and then you go out and look for people who might be able to help you develop a little more expertise, a better way to teach, a better way to coach some situation.”