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Sunday, December 31, 2006
Tide reportedly to make serious run at Saban

ESPN.com news services

Nick Saban swears he's not leaving the Dolphins to take over at Alabama. The Crimson Tide, however, aren't buying his public statements and are reportedly ready to blow Saban away with a mammoth offer.

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.

The Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post both reported this weekend that Alabama will present an offer of at least $40 million to Saban this week, hoping to convince the former LSU coach to take over its program.

Saban is owed about $15 million in the final three years of his contract with the Dolphins.

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.

An Alabama official, speaking on the condition on anonymity, said earlier this week the Crimson Tide are interested in as many as five candidates to replace Shula, but Saban was clearly the top choice. The Alabama official said the school hoped to have Shula's replacement hired by Friday, which marks the beginning of an important recruiting weekend.

Reports linking Alabama and Saban began circulating soon after the Crimson Tide fired Shula as coach in late November. Saban has repeatedly denied interest in the job.

"I'm not going to be the Alabama coach," he said last week.

Saban said he wouldn't comment on the Alabama opening anymore.

"I'm just making a rule to never comment on something like that again because every time you comment on it, it just makes for another story," Saban said. "So I'm not going to comment on it five years from now, and I'm not going to comment on it next week."

He reminded reporters of his stance after Miami's season-ending 27-22 loss to the Colts on Sunday, adding the Dolphins job is the one "I'm committed to doing well."

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.

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 leaving Baton Rouge for Miami.

LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who worked for Saban when the Tigers won the 2003 BCS national championship, said he wasn't sure if Saban would return to college football.

"I don't know what Nick's going to do," Fisher said. "That deal over there, I don't know. I'm sitting on the edge of my seat like everyone else waiting to see what happens."

But Fisher did indirectly indicate that Saban is unhappy coaching in the NFL, where he has less control over personnel issues.

When speaking about his own job opportunities, Fisher said: "I don't want to take the wrong job and three or four years later, you're asking for the one you had." Fisher then smiled and said, "We all know that happens a lot."

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.