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SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 2007
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Stallings says Tide got best man for job

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

Gene Stallings didn’t attend Thursday’s news conference in Tuscaloosa to introduce Nick Saban as Alabama’s new football coach, but the Tide’s most recent coaching icon still had a presence.

Saban said he consulted Stallings, who went 70-16-1 during 1990-96 and won a national championship. Saban added that Stallings helped him and his wife, Terry, with their decision to leave the Miami Dolphins.

When contacted Saturday, Stallings declined to reveal with he and Saban discussed, but he said Alabama did well in targeting and landing Saban.

“They got the man that they wanted,” Stallings said from his ranch in Powderly, Texas. “He is a proven coach who has won the national championship. He will bring some instant credibility to the program.”

Stallings also defended Saban for leaving Miami after only two seasons, saying that he just didn’t have the time to finish what he started and that Saban’s coaching style seemed better suited for the college game.

Despite lauding Alabama for getting the top collegiate coaching candidate on the market, Stallings expressed some hesitation about the money the Tide will pay Saban. Alabama reportedly has given him an eight-year deal worth $32 million, which makes him the highest paid coach in college football.

Stallings recalled older days, when he served as a Bear Bryant assistant coach in the late 1950s and early ’60s at Alabama. Bobby Dodd was coaching at Georgia Tech, Shug Jordan was coaching Auburn and Johnny Vaught was coaching Ole Miss.

According to Stallings, back in those days, coaches could last for more than 20 years and not hear whispers of leaving or being fired — Dodd coached Tech for 22 seasons, Vaught at Ole Miss for 24 seasons and Jordan with Auburn for 25 seasons.

Stallings said that back then, coaches placed more emphasis on enhancing the community and affecting players’ lives by pushing them towards graduation.

“All we do is rank a coach by how many games they’ve won,” Stallings said. “There are not many places where a coach stays any length of time. Somebody always offers him more money.”

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