by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
Weíre entering Week Three of the Nick Saban era and things are progressing just as promised.
Thatís not to suggest that Saban is reclining on South Beach, working half days and sipping tea. When the man took the job, he told us he would be methodical in everything that needed doing, from evaluating talent to hiring coaches.
Thus far, some solid progress has been announced. Unfortunately for fans of the Miami Dolphins, it is difficult to know just how much.
Thatís because Saban has implemented a clamp down on the media, evicting reporters from their desks at the teamís training complex. Hence forward, unless the team has an announcement to make, reporters cannot even be on the property.
Some are now working from home, others from temporary spaces at their media outlet offices far from the teamís Davie facility.
Naturally, Iím biased in my view that suppression of the media is generally a bad idea.
First off, it cheats fans from being able to follow the team in a complete manner. Second, it does little to keep reporters from getting information; they just turn to other sources. Third, it isnít conducive to having warm relations between the team and the media. And, finally, it creates the perception that there is something to hide, encouraging suspicion and skepticism.
Safe to say that the Dolphins wonít be earning any ďmedia friendlyĒ awards in the foreseeable future. Thatís too bad because the team had been widely regarded as one of the best in this area for some time.
Of course none of this matters so long as the team is winning. Ensuring that this is the case is what Saban is focused on.
To that end, recent events indicate that hiring a coaching staff is at the top of his list.
As we now know, Jim Bates has decided to move on. Bates said the move was in the ďbest interest of the football teamĒ.
While it is difficult to see how losing a talent like Bates could be in the teamís best interest, his decision is understandable given his desire to become a permanent head coach.
A report in The Miami Herald indicated that former Cowboy field boss and Jimmy Johnson disciple Dave Campo is being courted for the top defensive job. If true, this suggests that Saban will continue to employ the existing defensive scheme.
Perhaps his assessment of the teamís talent has forced him to conclude that a change to a 3-4 scheme would be disastrous without wholesale and cap-hostile personnel changes. This would also be consistent with his stated preference of employing schemes that fit his playersí talents and abilities.
To Sabanís credit, he was wise to retain defensive backs coach Mel Phillips. A 20-year Dolphin veteran, Phillips is widely regarded and respected as one of the best in the business.
Joining Phillips on defense will be the newly hired Will Muschamp, formerly LSUís linebackers coach under Saban. His specific assignment has not yet been announced.
Offensively, Sabanís intentions are much more speculative and unsettled.
What we do know is that neither Chris Foerster nor Marc Trestman will be tabbed for the top job. Foerster has accepted an offer from the Ravens to assume their offensive line coaching duties. As for Trestman, we can only guess that Saban wasnít convinced that the squabbling amongst the 2004 staff wouldnít continue under his leadership.
Recently, it was revealed by ESPNís Hank Goldberg that Trestman was actually offered the offensive coordinatorís job by Dave Wannstedt before a near staff revolt forced him to reconsider and tab Foerster instead.
Aside from a coordinator, a key hiring decision will be selecting an offensive line coach.
The team continues to list Tony Wise in this capacity on their web site. However, a Miami Herald report said that Wiseís office had already been cleaned out and that the Panthersí Dave Magazu was being considered for the job.
One wonders if a commitment made by Wise to the media will ever be kept. Recall that Wise had said he would comment on the offensive line at seasonís end.
Given that he remains under contract to the team, perhaps Wise is simply waiting for his situation to be formally clarified before he says anything. His candid views on the situation would be insightful.
We do know about two newcomers: Derek Dooley and Bobby Williams. Both men served on Sabanís staff at LSU, Dooley coaching the tight ends and Williams the wide receivers. Dooley is the son of former Georgia coaching legend Vince Dooley. Their assignments have not yet been formally announced.
It is believed that current coaches Jerry Sullivan (receivers) and Joel Collier (running backs) are decent bets to be retained.
As for the evaluation of pro personnel, only Saban knows what he is thinking and when he will be speaking.
Above all else, what continues to confuse and confound are reports that Saban is actively exploring the option of welcoming Ricky Williams back to the team.
ďI think that if Ricky Williams has value to this organization he certainly is somebody that we would like to have be part of this organizationĒ, Saban said. ďI would be open to that.Ē
Perhaps Saban doesnít care about what happened in the past. After all, he wasnít the one personally betrayed by Williamsí actions. He canít feel your pain.
Somehow, he must believe that there is the possibility of salvaging the situation in such a way that the team and its fans would accept his return.
I, for one, would welcome an opportunity to better understand Sabanís perspective on this subject.
Just when that opportunity will come is anyoneís guess. After all, ďmaking haste slowlyĒ is what Saban said he would do.
Even if it means making us wait for answers.