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Saban goes to work for Dolphins

In the weeks ahead, new Dolphins coach Nick Saban must revamp the coaching staff, evaluate the players he inherited, trim payroll to meet the salary cap, hire a player personnel chief, shop for free agents and prepare for the draft.

"We'll have a busy few months coming up," Saban said. "Let me just say this: We will make haste slowly when it comes to making decisions. We're going to be methodical in evaluating all thoseareas."

The sixth coach in the Dolphins' 39-year history reported for work Tuesday, arriving at the team complex by helicopter shortly before 11 a.m. He met with three assistant coaches, spoke at an introductory 45-minute news conference and expressed confidence he can revive a franchise coming off its worst season since the 1960s.

"I'm not here to predict championships," Saban said. "I'm here to formulate a process that helps people be successful. If we can do that, we're going to put ourselves in a position to have an opportunity to win a championship sometime in the future."

Despite his reputation for turning around programs at LSU and Michigan State with a hard-nosed approach, the 53-year-old Saban said he's not a savior, workaholic or disciplinarian. Indeed, he sounded more like a CEO conducting a Power Point presentation. "In every part of this organization, we want to try to be on the cutting edge of everything we do _ in systems, analysis, everything," he said.

During a 45-minute news conference, Saban never smiled but did flash occasional humor, such as when he drew a parallel between coaching and raising his two children.

"Nicholas is 18," Saban said. "If you take the keys to the truck away, you can get just about anything you want done."

On Christmas Day, Saban agreed to a five-year deal worth at least $22.5-million, but he delayed starting the job until after coaching in LSU's loss to Iowa at the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. After repeatedly turning down past overtures from the NFL, Saban was lured to the Dolphins by their winning tradition _ this season's 4-12 record notwithstanding _ and Wayne Huizenga's reputation as a hands-off owner.

"The challenge that is here with a great organization and a great owner in a great part of the country was very appealing," Saban said. "I felt like after 11 years of being a coach in college, I was ready for a new challenge."

The Dolphins set a franchise record for defeats, but Saban said there's enough talent on the roster to do better. He left the door open to the return of running back Ricky Williams, whose retirement in July began Miami's downward spiral.

Saban also met with friend and former colleague Jim Bates, who went 3-4 as interim coach. Bates may return to his coordinator job, but he's also interested in head-coaching opportunities elsewhere in the NFL.

"We'll probably have another meeting in a week or so," Saban said. "The decision is going to get made _ not what's best for anyone but this organization."

Chris Foerster is unlikely to be retained as offensive coordinator, and Saban said he hopes to hire someone with NFL experience for that job.

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