Bama makes big offer to Dolphins' Saban

Updated: January 2, 2007, 5:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DAVIE, Fla. -- Alabama renewed its courtship of Dolphins coach Nick Saban on Monday, and he declined to say whether he'll remain with Miami.

Saban's head coaching career
Nick Saban
Saban
Nick Saban signed a five-year contract with the Dolphins on Dec. 27, 2004, becoming the sixth coach in Miami's history.

COACHING RECORD:
With Dolphins: 15-17 (2005-present)
With LSU: 48-16 (2000-'04)*
With Michigan State: 35-24-1 (1995-'99)
With Toledo: 9-2 (1990)

* Won national title following 2003 season.

"I've got a rule that I'm not talking about any of that stuff," Saban said.

The Crimson Tide made their formal pitch Monday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting. The offer is worth $35 million to $40 million, and includes many variables. It could run from eight to 10 years. The offer does not contain a provision for a signing bonus. In general, colleges don't pay signing bonuses, and there has never been the suggestion Alabama will pay one here.

Saban and Alabama athletic director Mal Moore met Monday night in Miami.

Dolphins' owner Wayne Huizenga spent Monday at the Dolphins' facility, trying to persuade Saban to ignore Alabama's overtures and convince him to stay and finish the job he was hired to do. Reports said Huizenga and Saban were scheduled to meet Tuesday as well.

Saban has three years left on his Dolphins deal worth approximately $4.5 million a year. Huizenga may have to bump him up considerably to keep him because the financial security gap is expected to be significantly different between the Dolphins and the Crimson Tide.

An Alabama official told ESPN.com's Pat Forde on Monday at 3:30 p.m. Tuscaloosa time that a final yes or no from Saban was expected "within the next 24 hours."

There are 11 colleges coaches who make over $2 million a year. There are four coaches in the $3 million-plus range, if you count USC's Pete Carroll, who made $2.93 million this year and should be over $3 million next year. Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops are over $3 million.

A current Alabama assistant told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Sunday morning that former coach Mike Shula's staff expects Saban to be named the Crimson Tide's new coach sometime this week.

"He's going to clean house here, top to bottom," the coach said.

At a 25-minute day-after-the-season news conference, Saban tried to limit the conversation to the Dolphins' disappointing year and offseason issues. But the biggest issue is whether they'll need a new coach.

For weeks Saban has denied interest in the Alabama job, which became vacant when Shula was fired Nov. 27. Reports that Alabama is again trying to lure Saban away from the Dolphins prompted another round of questions.

"I'm committed to doing my job well here," Saban said. "This is my job. That's what I've done all day today, and that's what I'll continue to do."

When asked if there's an Alabama offer on the table, Saban said, "I have not talked to anyone." When asked if he's scheduled to meet with school officials this week, he said, "I don't know about that."

Moore said he won't discuss the coaching search until it's over.

"I'm talking with three or four different coaches at this point, so I don't want to comment about any coach," Moore said.

Saban's agent declined comment.

Stymied in their search since West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez turned down the job Dec. 8, the Tide may move quickly now that the season is ending for many teams. The NCAA's recruiting "dead period" started Dec. 18 and ends Friday.

The Tide finished the season 6-7, losing Thursday to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl.

Saban said he met individually with more than two dozen players Monday, one day after the Dolphins lost at Indianapolis to conclude a disappointing 6-10 season.

It was Saban's first losing season in 13 years as a head coach. He's 15-17 in two years with Miami, his first NFL head coaching job.

When asked if the past two seasons had soured his view of the NFL, he said, "I don't think so. This is a very competitive league. Everybody has good players. There's a lot of parity."

NFL Insider Chris Mortensen appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and SportsCenter. Pat Forde is a columnist for ESPN.com. Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was also used in this report.

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