AP photo/Tuscaloosa News by Robert Sutton|
Alabama football coach Nick Saban addresses the media in Tuscaloosa on Thursday for the first time after being chosen as the head football coach at The University of Alabama. Saban is the most high-profile coach the Tide has hired since Bear Bryant's retirement after the 1982 season, a steady stream that has included such names as Bill Curry, Mike DuBose and Mike Shula.
SABAN'S FIRST DAY ON CAMPUS
New coach embraces
UA's high expectations
By Josh Cooper
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
TUSCALOOSA — Alabama head football coach Nick Saban could not escape applause Thursday as he talked about where he wants to take the program.
The first task is to hire a staff of assistant coaches, and a few names are surfacing in that matter.
Supporters waited outside the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to greet Saban, the newest savior of the Crimson Tide football team.
And when Saban walked into the Naylor Stone media suite, several university officials and even a few news reporters gave him rousing applause.
"When I was at Michigan State, nobody knew much about me then," Saban said. "There was the equipment man, Jimmy (Sexton), over here and me. That's it. That's who met the plane."
With Saban on board and already working, Alabama can finally answer the question, "Where do we go from here?"
The first order of business for Saban is to assemble a staff, and according to sources, he already has brought in a group of assistants.
Former Florida State linebackers coach Kevin Steele will be named the Tide's new defensive coordinator, sources say.
Florida State's sports information department had informed reporters that Steele was gone to Alabama.
Saban said several other coaches were on their way to Tuscaloosa.
While he did not give names, sources indicate that Central Florida defensive coordinator Lance Thompson will be named by the Crimson Tide as a coach. Though it is unclear as to what capacity.
"What we want to do right now is hire a good staff," Saban said. "I think having good people is the most important thing you can do in having a successful program."
Rumors linked LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to the Crimson Tide, but now it appears Fisher is the leading candidate to be the offensive coordinator for Florida State.
It is unclear whether Saban will keep any of the current Alabama assistants, though reports have indicated that two of the front-runners are running backs coach Sparky Woods and defensive backs coach Chris Ball.
In terms of player personnel and how the team is run, Saban said he plans to evaluate what he has as soon as possible.
"Regardless of what a guy has done here in the past, everybody has a clean slate," Saban said. "They have an opportunity to compete for their position. There will be no depth chart."
Saban addressed recruiting as one of Alabama's major needs as well.
"The second order of business (behind hiring assistants) will be to try to pull together the recruiting class in terms of where we are with the players that we're recruiting — those that are committed and any other players that aren't committed that we might be able to get involved with in the very near future," Saban said.
The press conference also gave Tide officials a chance to clear up some rumors that surrounded Saban's hiring.
Athletics Director Mal Moore said he and Saban did not meet when Moore went to Miami. Instead, Moore talked to Saban and his wife, Terry, on the phone.
Moore did not know whether Saban would be the next coach at Alabama until three hours before the three boarded a plane for Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.
"I felt like I needed to be close by and on hand," Moore said. "But it was ... just a feeling that I had. Once I did talk to his wife, I thought I really had a chance."
According to Moore, Terry Saban was the person who gave the real green light to go full after Nick.
"She loved college football and longed to be back in it," Moore said. "Terry Saban was the one that made me feel good when I called him."
Saban responded to some of his critics in Miami who felt that he lied to the Dolphins organization by saying he wasn't leaving.
He said he had not officially been contacted by Moore until 6 p.m. Monday. Saban also stated that he was committed to the Dolphins' season up until the end and Alabama's official courtship.
"Terry and I decided after talking to Mal that we would think about this," Saban said. "We thought about it for a day, made a decision that this is where our heart was, and this is what we wanted to do."
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