Saban New Gruden?

Could Jimmy Haslam give the University of Tennessee football team (and the SEC East in particular) a break with one stroke of the pen? Rumors are rife that NFL owners are pursuing Alabama coach Nick Saban, with the struggling Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles as the most likely contenders.

Haslam, a UT alum and booster, bought the Browns this year and fired the general manager. He is reputed to be hiring Michael Lombardi as GM, and Lombardi and Saban worked together at the Browns for four years early in their careers.

Terry Saban told a Birmingham radio station that she expects that she and her husband will retire in Tuscaloosa, but she did acknowledge that the victories for the Crimson Tide weren't as thrilling as they used to be. That was enough to set off Tide fans.

Mainstream sports networks are treating the Saban-to-the-Browns story like the stories about Jon Gruden sightings. The rumors may have started on a sports talk show in Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Saban is prepping his team to play for its third national championship in four years. The SEC East, which includes Tennessee, has lost seven of the last 10 conference championships to Alabama, LSU, or Auburn. The last SEC East win was Florida in 2008.