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MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 2007
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Alabama continues its chase of Saban

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com· 340-2460

If Nick Saban decides to come to Alabama, his decision should come this week.

Sources close to the situation indicate that Alabama has zeroed in on Saban as the Tide’s top candidate with an official offer coming soon.

Considering how several sources close to the search have gone silent, Alabama does not want as public a courtship as it had with West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, who spoke openly with reporters about interviewing with the Crimson Tide.

After Rodriguez turned down Alabama, according to sources, athletics director Mal Moore asked for athletic department officials to remain silent.

This would mean that if Saban turned down the Tide, Moore would proceed quickly to hire another coach with a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

According to the Miami Herald, Alabama is willing to offer a reported $40 million to the former LSU coach over 10 seasons.

Saban is slated to make $15 million over the next three seasons with the Dolphins.

In early December, the Miami Herald reported that the Tide offered Saban a 10-year contract worth a reported $57 million. Several Board of Trustee members denied that report.

On Sunday morning, NFL reporter Chris Mortensen of ESPN indicated that Saban will decide by Tuesday Alabama’s offer.

Mortensen also said that if Saban decides to go back to college, his departure could have far-reaching effects on current coaches with eyes on the pros.

Saban’s potential defection would mark the third time in recent years that a coach tried his hand in the pros only to go back to college.

Former Miami and current Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson had failed stints with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Steve Spurrier’s two years with the Washington Redskins yielded a 12-20 record and ended with him going back to college to coach with South Carolina.

Saban and the Dolphins lost their season finale on Sunday at Indianapolis 27-22. Saban did not comment afterward about the Alabama reports, keeping with a policy he began last week of no longer commenting publicly about the Crimson Tide job.

From a team that had been a preseason Super Bowl favorite, the Dolphins finished 6-10 with unknown Cleo Lemon as its starting quarterback.

With few young up-and-coming players and several aging veterans on the defense, the Dolphins might be in a worse position next year, prompting Saban to keep the door open with Alabama.

Also, according to sources, people close to Saban have been telling Moore that Saban would be interested in the Alabama job if the Tide waited until the end of the NFL season.

In an interview with ESPN.com, LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher who worked under Saban said it was unclear as to whether he would take the Alabama job.

“I don’t know what Nick’s going to do,” Fisher said.

“That deal over there, I don’t know. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat like everyone else waiting to see what happens.”

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