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Sunday, January 11, 2004
Saban, school working on new contract

ESPN.com news services

CHICAGO -- Scratch Nick Saban off the list of coaching candidates for the Chicago Bears.

One day after meeting with Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo, Saban announced Saturday he is staying at LSU.

The Bears are looking for a new coach after firing Dick Jauron on Dec. 29. Angelo and Saban are longtime friends and were on the same coaching staff together at Syracuse in 1977.

"The conversation we had yesterday was really about the NFL. It was not really about being the head coach of the Chicago Bears," Saban said at a Baton Rouge, La., news conference Saturday.

"We talked about [how] things are a little different in the league right now than what they were when I was in it. We talked about some of those issues. And after thinking about whether that is something I would be interested in doing at this time or not, I just wanted everybody to know that's not something I'm interested in doing right now."

Saban, whose LSU team defeated Oklahoma in the Nokia Sugar Bowl to win the BCS title, is a former defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. He has drawn interest in the past from NFL teams looking for head coaches.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports that a new contract for Saban with LSU will be completed in the next few days. It will be for six to nine years and will be worth $2.7 million to $3 million annually.

When asked if he was offered the Bears' job, Saban said:

"Jerry and I talked about it. It was more 'Are you interested in doing this type of thing?' And that's where I'd like to leave it," Saban said.

The Bears have already interviewed New England Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, and Jim Mora, who was named coach of the Falcons on Friday.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday that the Bears have also received permission from the Pittsburgh Steelers to interview offensive line coach Russ Grimm. Another possible candidate is Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Bears spokesman Scott Hagel told The Associated Press on Saturday the team wasn't commenting on individual candidates at this time.

"That's still the path we're on and the process is going as planned," Hagel said. "We're doing our due diligence."

On the day he fired Jauron, Angelo said he had a list of six to eight candidates and would bring finalists to Halas Hall to meet with ownership and chief executive officer Ted Phillips.

But Saban was considered a prime candidate because of his long relationship with Angelo.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.