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THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007
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Alabama coach Nick Saban will speak with reporters Thursday.
AP photo by Jason Harless
Alabama coach Nick Saban will speak with reporters Thursday.

Tide's Saban keeps moving on staff search
New coach also meets with team

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

Nick Saban will have a news conference Thursday, his first since Alabama hired him Jan. 3 as its 27th head football coach.

The school has not said if Saban plans to talk about his coaching staff during his meeting with reporters, but Saban normally chooses large media forums to make announcements.

Also, Saban met with his team for the first time Wednesday. According to a team source who declined to be identified, the meeting was mostly a chance for players to meet Saban as he went over his policies and directives.

"I think he's the real deal," the source said. "I think he'll teach us a lot."

Reports indicate that Saban is pursuing several avenues in terms of assistants. Saban has searched in several directions — from former coaches who worked with him at the Dolphins, including Bobby Williams and Travis Jones, to college coaches.

Rice offensive coordinator Major Applewhite remains in the picture as a possible Tide assistant. The 27-year-old former Texas quarterback led the Owls in a season in which they scored 92 more points than in the previous year.

Initial reports said that Applewhite might join Alabama and work under former Houston Texans offensive coordinator Joe Pendry, who could tutor Applewhite.

However, according to a source, Applewhite — a Baton Rouge native — has interviewed for LSU's offensive coordinator job, recently vacated by Flordia State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

The source also indicated that Saban is set to hire Pendry and former Houston Texans offensive line coach Steve Marshall. Saban also is hot on the trail of Tampa Bay Bucanneers tight ends/special teams coach Ron Middleton, a former Auburn player.

No assistants who worked for fired Alabama coach Mike Shula have been retained.

Another coordinator whose name has been linked to Alabama is Southern California offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

In a release Tuesday, Saban announced that three coaches have joined his staff, although he didn't specify their positions.

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