11.27.05

Know Your Role – Mulligan On Saban’s Spiel

Posted in Gridiron at 10:19 am by

In the aftermath of Dolphins coach Nick Saban’s poorly-received “results don’t matter” press conference last week, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Mulligan has no quarrel with Miami’s long term goals. He’d just prefer that Saban not talk about them.

The role of a general manager is to save the team from the coach. The GM looks at the bigger picture, evaluates personnel on a game-to-game basis against the rest of the league and tries to direct the coach toward lasting success instead of the shortsighted type that fuels successful seasons. Saban (above) was talking like a general manager when he evaluated his 3-7 team after last week’s loss.

He started backpedaling like the old defensive back he is when he realized the big story in Miami was the coach had raised a white flag on the season. Forget talk about a playoff run, the Dolphins were trying to figure out whom they wanted to replace for next season. How about a new quarterback, for one?

The fact of the matter is that Miami is coming off its second-worst season. And the unit the Dolphins were built around in the past, the defense, is aging rapidly and losing longtime stars to injury.

Saban, a former defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick back in Cleveland, might know the secret formula for success that Belichick and his family tree have been spreading around the NFL. Saban has reportedly been teaching his handpicked GM Randy Mueller a system of evaluating players that takes into account intelligence and character as well as physical ability.

It all sounds great. But in many ways, some of the things that Saban has struggled with — controlling the media, staying on message, keeping the fans happy — are problems Belichick had in Cleveland in his first go-around as a head coach. Saban has been a head coach on the college level, but he has been out of the NFL for 10 years. A lot of solid football people believe Saban eventually will win. He needs to talk like a coach until he does.

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