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Dolphins meet with Saban about coaching job

Within hours of Dave Wannstedt's resignation last month, LSU coach Nick Saban tried to quell inevitable speculation by releasing a statement saying he's not interested in any other jobs.

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) _ Within hours of Dave Wannstedt's resignation last month, LSU coach Nick Saban tried to quell inevitable speculation by releasing a statement saying he's not interested in any other jobs.

The Miami Dolphins hope he'll change his mind.

Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga and president Eddie Jones met with Saban in Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday night, in what both sides called ``a preliminary conversation'' about the team's search for a coach.

Saban was not offered the job, and it wasn't immediately clear Wednesday if any more meetings between the sides were scheduled.

No decisions were made in this meeting and they will continue their search for a coach,'' said Saban, who's in the first year of an $18.45-million, seven-year contract with the school.I will continue to be committed to LSU, our football program and totally focused on our bowl game versus Iowa.''

LSU (9-2) meets Iowa (9-2) on Jan. 1 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Asked if he expected to coach the Tigers in the bowl game, Saban said, ``Absolutely. I'm committed to being the coach here. I'm happy being the coach here.''

But Saban acknowledged that opportunities must be weighed.

I have a great commitment to LSU, a great love for this institution, all that we've been able to accomplish here and the great support that so many people have given us,'' Saban said Wednesday night after LSU's first bowl game practice.But I also have a responsibility and an obligation to be able to think through some things at a very busy time of year.''

The overtures between Saban and the Dolphins have been expected for weeks, since Wannstedt resigned last month after Miami's 1-8 start.

Jones an LSU graduate did not divulge specific details on the meeting and, like Saban, stressed that no choices have been made.

``In keeping with our policy to conduct this search with integrity, prior to speaking with Coach Saban we did contact LSU interim chancellor William L. Jenkins to inform him of our meeting,'' Jones said in a statement released by the team.

Calls placed to Huizenga's office were not returned.

Former Giants coach Jim Fassel, Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and interim Miami coach Jim Bates all are believed to be candidates for the job.

That is certainly not a complete list, since each of the rumored prospects are white. Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene stressed the team will satisfy the NFL's minority interviewing requirements during its search, plus adhere to the league's strict tampering rules.

Miami players first learned of the meeting with Saban on Wednesday.

He has a national championship, he's in a pretty good bowl this year and he's restored the program,'' said Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain, a New Orleans native.Every word I hear from home is pretty good. If we get him, fine. He'll be a welcome addition.''

The players are backing Bates, who's gone 1-3 since taking over.

He came in at a rough time for the team, and he's done a great job,'' center Seth McKinney said.I've enjoyed playing for him and I'd do it again next year in a heartbeat.''

Added Surtain: ``Hopefully we can go out and get a couple wins for him to help with the decision.''

Saban is 48-15 in five seasons at LSU, taking the Tigers to bowl games in each of those years.

LSU beat Oklahoma 21-14 in last year's Bowl Championship Series title game, triggering a clause in Saban's contract that guaranteed him becoming the highest-paid coach in college football.

Life decisions like this are difficult, and it only complicates matters to have to deal with it in a public setting,'' LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said.Nick Saban has revolutionized LSU football and he has energized the state of Louisiana, and we hope he will be our coach for a long time.''

Saban met last year with the Chicago Bears, and is also rumored to be a candidate in Cleveland _ which is seeking a permanent replacement for Butch Davis, who resigned last month after a 3-8 start.

We are all aware that other NFL teams have made overtures to him in the past and he hasn't expressed any interest,'' Bertman said.But this is one of the premier jobs in the NFL and he owes it to his family and their future to hear what the Dolphins have to say.''

Bates worked with Saban in Cleveland from 1991-93; Saban was the Browns' defensive coordinator, Bates was the linebackers coach for one season and defensive ends coach for the final two.

Nick's a personal friend of mine and a good football coach,'' Bates said.He's come up the hard way and he's done a great job everywhere he's been. ... All I know is Nick Saban's a darn good football coach.''

Bates said he expects to discuss his chances with Huizenga later this week.

It doesn't bother me,'' Bates said of the Dolphins' meeting with Saban.Like I mentioned at the first press conference, my job is to help this team win, to play at a high level and that is still my objective.''

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