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Saban coy as Alabama comes calling

DAVIE, Fla. (Jan. 1, 2007) -- Alabama renewed its courtship of Dolphins coach Nick Saban, and he declined to say whether he'll remain with Miami.

"I've got a rule that I'm not talking about any of that stuff," Saban said.

At a 25-minute day-after-the-season news conference, Saban tried to limit the conversation to the Dolphins' disappointing year and offseason issues. But the biggest issue is whether they'll need a new coach.

For weeks Saban has denied interest in the Alabama job, which became vacant when Mike Shula was fired Nov. 27. Newspaper reports that Alabama is again trying to lure him away from the Dolphins prompted another round of questions.

"I'm committed to doing my job well here," Saban said. "This is my job. That's what I've done all day today, and that's what I'll continue to do."

The Birmingham News reported on its Web site that Alabama athletic director Mal Moore left Tuscaloosa on a plane Jan. 1 headed for a Miami area airport. The News and other newspapers reported that Alabama was prepared to offer Saban a seven-year deal that would make him college football's highest-paid coach.

When asked if there's an Alabama offer on the table, Saban said, "I have not talked to anyone." When asked if he's scheduled to meet with school officials this week, he said, "I don't know about that."

Moore said he won't discuss the coaching search until it's over.

"I'm talking with three or four different coaches at this point, so I don't want to comment about any coach," Moore said.

Saban's agent declined comment.

Stymied in their search since West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez turned down the job Dec. 8, the Tide may move quickly now that the season is ending for many teams. The NCAA's recruiting "dead period" started Dec. 18 and ends Jan. 5.

The Tide finished the season 6-7, losing Dec. 28 to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl.

Saban has three years remaining on a five-year, $25 million contract with Miami. He said he met individually with more than two dozen players Jan. 1, one day after the Dolphins lost at Indianapolis to conclude a disappointing 6-10 season.

It was Saban's first losing season in 13 years as a head coach. He's 15-17 in two years with Miami, his first NFL head coaching job.

When asked if the past two seasons had soured his view of the NFL, he said, "I don't think so. This is a very competitive league. Everybody has good players. There's a lot of parity."

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