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SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2007
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Saban makes Major hiring
Rice offensive assistant joins Tide coaching unit

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com· 340-2462

Alabama coach Nick Saban appears to be putting the final touches on his staff.

In his biggest hire to date, Saban brought former Rice offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to the Crimson Tide.

While his position has not been announced, it is expected that he will be offensive coordinator or share in some kind of major offensive role with former Houston Texans offensive assistant Joe Pendry.

One of the bright young minds in college football, Applewhite, 27, helped lead the Owls to their first bowl appearance since 1961.

The Rice offense scored its most points in school history — 350 — and gained the third most yards — 4,486.

Some reports had Applewhite, a Baton Rouge, La., native, choosing between Alabama and Louisiana State to replace former Tigers offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. Florida State hired Fisher on Monday.

Applewhite’s major contributions as a player came mostly as a freshman and sophomore with Texas in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, then-sophomore Chris Simms took over primary starting duties, which continued into 2001, Applewhite’s senior year.

But after Simms was injured in the Big 12 championship game, Applewhite was told he would start his final collegiate game. He made the most of it, throwing for 473 yards and four touchdowns in Texas’ 47-43 come-from-behind victory against the University of Washington in the 2001 Holiday Bowl.

Saban may hire a few more coaches.

It depends on how many of the hirees he can deem “on-field coaches.”

Only nine are allowed in college football. Seven of the nine Saban has hired are considered to be parts of Alabama’s on-field coaching staff.

Todd Alles, hired from Ohio State, will likely be put in an administrative role, and most of Bo Davis’ experience has come as a strength coach.

There has been a groundswell for Alabama to re-hire Joe Kines in some role, but Saban has not said one way or another as to whether he will bring in the Tide’s former defensive coordinator.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Joe,” Saban said in his press conference Thursday.

“He has been around here, but I’ve talked to Joe on several occasions and something has got to work for Joe that works for Joe.”

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