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Thursday, December 21, 2006
Saban: 'I'm not going to be the Alabama coach'

Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. -- Nick Saban says he doesn't browse the Internet, never sends e-mails or surfs from site to site.

He might have to start soon, if only to follow the persistent rumors about him and his future.

A story posted on NFL.com this week said Alabama "keeps on making runs at Saban" in an effort to persuade the Miami Dolphins coach to return to college and take over in Tuscaloosa for fired Mike Shula. The same story even said an unnamed NFL head coach said Saban is getting closer to joining the Crimson Tide.

So on Thursday, Saban -- who has tried to denounce the story about him potentially going to Alabama numerous times in recent weeks -- again, and adamantly, denied that he's headed back to the college ranks.

"I guess I have to say it," Saban said. "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."

When the stories linking Alabama and Saban began circulating last month, almost immediately after Shula got fired following a 6-6 season, the former coach at Louisiana State said he was flattered but not interested.

He's bristled at nearly every suggestion about him leaving the Dolphins since.

"I don't know how many times I've got to respond to rumor and innuendo," Saban said. "I have no control over that. I've stated what my intentions are and they really haven't changed, so I don't know what the issue is. And I don't know why people keep asking about it. What they talk about over there is their business. But what's happening here is my business and our business, and that's what we're focused on."

Saban acknowledged this month that Alabama approached his agent about its coaching job, but he declined an invitation to talk to the Crimson Tide.

Saban agreed to a five-year contract worth at least $22.5 million with Miami on Christmas Day 2004. He'll celebrate the second anniversary of that deal Monday night, when the Dolphins -- 6-8 this season and 15-15 in their two seasons under Saban -- host the New York Jets.

It's the home finale for the season, but the players hardly expect it to be Saban's final game in Miami.

"He told us a couple weeks ago that he's proud to be a Dolphin and he's going to be sticking around," Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington said. "So I take him at his word. I've taken him at his word ever since I came here. He's one of the reasons why I decided to come to Miami. And so, if he tells us he's going to say, I trust him. But on the other hand, there's a lot of job offers out there and he's a tremendous coach."

Saban went 48-16 in five seasons at LSU, won the 2003 BCS national championship and went 92-42-1 as a college head coach. He turned down several overtures from the NFL before coming to Miami.

"I don't control what people say," Saban said. "I don't control what people put on dot-com or anything else. So I'm just telling you there's no significance, in my opinion, about this, about me, about any interest that I have in anything other than being the coach here."

The Saban-to-Alabama story isn't the only one on the Internet right now raising the ire of the Dolphins' coach.

Sportsillustrated.com, in a story dated Wednesday, quotes former Dolphins quarterback Gus Frerotte as saying Saban wanted to bench him for the final game of the 2005 season "because I had a bunch of incentives on the line, and it could have saved the organization money."

Frerotte, in the same article, said Scott Linehan, the Dolphins' offensive coordinator last season and now the head coach in St. Louis, where Frerotte signed to play this season, talked Saban out of that plan. Frerotte wound up starting, and the Dolphins ended their season with a 28-26 win at New England.

Saban, just as he did with the Alabama story, strongly denied Frerotte's claims.

"That's absolutely not true," Saban said. "I make those decisions. Scott Linehan doesn't make them and he didn't make them here. And maybe somebody told Gus Frerotte that to get him to leave here, but that is absolutely not true."