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4th down
for Saban

Dolphins coach has until today to make decision on Tide's big-bucks offer

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

If The University of Alabama lands the Miami Dolphins' Nick Saban as its next football coach, the school will have to wait until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

After meeting with athletics director Mal Moore on Monday, Saban met with Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga on Tuesday afternoon. During the meetings, Saban asked for time to consider the Alabama job, which came open Nov. 26 when the Crimson Tide fired Mike Shula.

"The meeting went good," Huizenga told reporters. "We had a quick meeting. We had a nice conversation.

"Coach asked if we could defer the decision until tomorrow morning. And then he went into several reasons as to why he wanted to do that. I agree 100 percent with his reasons. I understand more now what he's thinking about."

Huizenga concluded the interview session by saying, "I'm optimistic."

According to sources who wish to remain unidentified, if Alabama doesn't lure Saban to Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will go after Louisville's Bobby Petrino. After that, Alabama would target Wake Forest's Jim Grobe. Coincidentally, both were in South Florida on Tuesday night, coaching against each other in the Orange Bowl.

An Associated Press reporter at the Dolphins' training facility in Davie, Fla., on Tuesday afternoon wrote that Saban smiled and waved at reporters as he left.

According to sources, Tide officials are annoyed with the delay, but obliged to wait if it means landing one of the biggest names on the coaching market.

Alabama reportedly has offered a contract in the range of eight and 10 years and $30 million to $35 million.

If Alabama pays Saban that much, he would become the highest-paid coach in college football.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops tops the list now with $3.45 million a year.

Saban has three years left on the deal he signed with the Dolphins on Dec. 27, 2004, worth $5 million annually.

However, Saban has struggled with the Dolphins. He has posted a 15-17 record, including 6-10 this season, his first losing record in 13 years as a head coach.

Also, according to a recent article in the Miami Herald, Saban has not embraced the South Florida lifestyle. He rarely eats out and never vacations in state, preferring to go to a lake house in Georgia.

He has a 91-42-1 record in 11 seasons as a college head coach, including five at LSU during 2000-04.

At LSU, he won Southeastern Conference titles in 2001 and '03 and a national championship in 2003.


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