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LSU’s Saban Agrees to Coach Dolphins

From Associated Press

Nick Saban, courted repeatedly by NFL teams in recent years, held a televised news conference in Orlando, Fla., to announce he would accept an offer to coach the Miami Dolphins.

Saban, 53, will coach Louisiana State (9-2) against Iowa (9-2) in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 at Orlando before taking over the Dolphins (3-11), who are enduring their worst season since the 1960s. He becomes the sixth coach in team history, and the fourth since Wayne Huizenga took over as owner in 1994.

“It’s a tremendous challenge for me,” Saban said.

No contract has been signed, but Saban agreed to a five-year deal worth nearly $5 million a year.

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Huizenga said he was unsure they had an agreement until the news conference.

“I had a good feeling, but I really did not know,” Huizenga said.

Touted as NFL material even when he was at Michigan State in the late 1990s, Saban turned down previous overtures from at least five pro teams. He had been considered the favorite to become Miami’s coach since Dave Wannstedt resigned in November.

Saban said the Dolphin job carried special appeal.

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“I just felt like this opportunity, with this organization, was one of the best that’s ever been presented to me in terms of how you can control your destiny in the organization, the commitment the organization has to winning and the tradition that they have in winning,” Saban said.

Huizenga’s willingness to give Saban full authority over the football operation could mean the demotion or departure of General Manager Rick Spielman.

Saban is 9-2 this season and 48-15 in five years at LSU, taking the Tigers to a bowl game every season.

The highest-paid coach in college football, Saban is in the first year of an $18.45-million, seven-year contract at LSU, but the deal has no buyout clause penalizing him for taking another job.

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Saban’s only stints in the NFL came as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns from 1991 to 1993 and with the Houston Oilers in 1988 and 1989.

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New England running back Kevin Faulk (knee) and receiver Bethel Johnson (thigh) will sit out today against the New York Jets.... New York Giant defensive tackle Norman Hand was put on injured reserve because of a groin injury.


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