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Weíre entering Week Three of the Nick Saban era and things are progressing just
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.