Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Saban keeps options open

ESPN.com news services

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Co-national champion LSU has a new contract for coach Nick Saban, but he's in no rush to sign it.

LSU's offer guarantees Saban, who is expected to receive offers from several of the seven NFL teams that have head coach openings, would be the highest paid college coach at $2.5 million a year. Saban, however, told The Associated Press that the contract isn't to his liking yet.

"I'm not complaining, but supposedly there's some other proposal," Saban said. "We'll look at it. You know, I'm happy to be at LSU. This is a tremendous accomplishment for our football program, and, as I've said before, I hope it's the beginning, not the end of being a dominant program."

LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman said Tuesday he had faxed a new contract to Saban's agent and did not expect to lose the coach.

Saban has a 30-day window to re-negotiate with the university and agree to a deal, associate athletic director Dan Radakovich said.

Saban's stock has never been higher now that the Tigers have a share of college football's national championship after being Oklahoma in the Nokia Sugar Bowl on Sunday night. LSU split the title with USC, which led the final AP media poll.

Under Saban's guidance, LSU also finished the season as the top-ranked defensive team in the nation.

Saban currently makes $1.5 million, but a clause in his contract stipulates that if he won the national title he was guaranteed $1 more than the highest-paid college coach. That coach turned out to be the one Saban beat -- Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, at $2.3 million -- in the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Saban has said many times that he would like to stay in Baton Rouge. But the NFL certainly will come calling. Saban will be contacted by officials from several of the NFL teams that have vacancies and almost certainly will be at or near the top of the wish list of some of them.

The Falcons and Bears -- among others -- likely will try to gauge Saban's interest sometime this week, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports. The Giants are also believed to be interested in Saban, but they are close to a deal with Tom Coughlin.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.