Can anyone remember the last time Nick Saban worked to the end of his contract?
And what's to stop Saban from leaving Alabama before the end of his contract, when his extension apparently still leaves the school with no reciprocating buyout?
Nothing, really, so negotiations between Alabama and its third-year football coach are nothing more than message management.
Alabama sends a message that it's as committed as ever to Saban … still … just two-and-a-half years after making him a $32 million man over eight years.
Saban sends a message to recruits that he's committed to Alabama … still … after the school just received a wrist tap from the NCAA.
Alabama fans post like pachyderms thundering on as light sanctions fall off like dust … and all the while appealing the sanctions.
How cool is that?
The only way it could be cooler is if Saban signs the papers via video conference.
Talk about directing the message.
But once it's done, there's not much here.
Then again, there's rarely much of anything in the extension game. If a school likes its coach, then it keeps him under contract long enough to reassure recruits.
How much does Alabama like Saban?
Enough that "like" isn't a strong enough word.
Enough that Saban's loving Alabama back is optional, which he proves every time he chides Tide fans.
Alabama loves Saban enough to give him an extension, though his original deal would carry him through the playing years of his next two signing classes.
Grayshirts not included, of course.
Saban certainly deserves the love. Two seasons into his stay, he's won two recruiting national championships plus an SEC West title.
He so thrilled Alabama fans with a 12-0 regular season in 2008 that the faithful seemed to shrug off the 0-2 finish.
Even after Saban called them out for their supposed lack of enthusiasm leading up to Sugar Bowl loss to Utah, Tide fans seemed to accept the missed assignment and walked off determined to get better.
So one won't hear much argument against Alabama giving Saban an extension, not from Alabama fans. Anything that seems to lock him up must be good.
Anything that seems to promise many years of Saban brooding on Bryant-Denny Stadium's home sideline puts the yellow hammer to the rammer jammer.
And Alabama could very well be Saban's final career stop, as he said.
And he could very well retire later than sooner, as his statement at least leads the hopeful to think.
But the reality appears to be that Saban's extension leaves Alabama fans no more guarantees than they had with his original deal. They still have a coach with a history of comings and goings and a contract that gives him no penalty for going.
But hey, 2016 sure looks better than 2014.
Joe Medley is The Star's sports columnist. He can be reached at 235-3576 or email@example.com.