Alabama took a bold step in hiring Miami Dolphins' Coach Nick Saban for $4 million annually. How does that affect the Ole Miss Rebels and the rest of the SEC West? Here's one man's opinion.

Forget the astronomical money new Bama Coach Nick Saban will be making. That's a totally different issue - how his hiring will affect the finances and salaries of schools that compete against Bama and nationwide.

That's an issue athletic directors across the country will have to tackle and solve as the impact of the huge contract starts being felt. Keeping up with the Joneses, salary-wise, is not my immediate worry.

Let's just talk about the significance of the Saban hire on the field. As my friend Stan Torgerson used to pen, one man's opinion.

As a staunch supporter of Ole Miss and Ole Miss football, I am not going to jump off the proverbial bridge because Alabama hired Nick Saban as their new head football coach.

The SEC is already full of competent coaches. Add Saban to an already-long list of Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, et al.

He is no Magic Man. It says here he will not turn the Tide around immediately.

I know for a fact Ed Orgeron relishes the idea of locking horns with him, so there is no fear factor involved. He loves the challenge and the competition.

But if there was one person I didn't want to see get that job - sorry, but I like seeing the Tide "struggle" - it was Saban.

Saban knows the lay of the land in the SEC, he won a national title while he was coaching in it at LSU, and he stockpiled the Tigers with enough talent that Les Miles is still winning big with a lot of it in Baton Rouge.

Nick, known as a tireless recruiter as well as an egomaniac - some Saban stories from LSU are legendary, is definitely an upgrade from Mike Shula, who was in way over his head from day one of his tenure at Bama.

With Saban, they've got a guy who will not back down from anyone, including the power structure at Alabama, which is probably what they need more than they need a good coach.

But I really don't care what Alabama does internally. All I care about is how the move affects Ole Miss.

Without going overboard, it's my humble opinion that the already-hard SEC just got tougher. Saban will bring to Alabama a brilliant defensive mind, a tenacious recruiting attitude and a work ethic/organizational philosophy not seen in those parts in many years.

I turn back the clock to the Ole Miss-LSU game in 2003 when the Tigers met the Rebels in Oxford and prevailed 17-14 for the SEC West title. While I have never been more proud of an Ole Miss team/fan base than that night, the reality was that we scored one offensive TD with a number one draft pick under center. Their defense was stifling against an offense that scored 442 points on the year.

As I wrote the recap to that game, I remember saying I had never seen a collection of physical specimens as good as I saw that night at every single position - up close and personal - on one team. Saban was responsible for that collection of fast, strong, big human flesh. He had prototypical athletes all over the field.

Saban will recruit Mississippi hard. Mark that down. He did when he was at LSU and he will at Alabama. He will have a certain level of success - how much remains to be seen.

He will restore the Tide to defensive prominence in the nation. I believe that is a given. Will he be able to duplicate his success at LSU with like success at Alabama? Only time will tell.

The task for Ole Miss, the rest of the West and the SEC will be to meet him head on.

Ole Miss also has a relentless recruiter and a tireless worker leading our program.

The Rebels also have a man at the top who believes in defense and will build a good one here in time.

Now, with the IPF, we have the facilities to compete with anyone.

The SEC was already a lean, mean machine. It just got a little leaner and meaner.

Nick Saban is not a saviour nor a genius. But he is a good, proven football coach, unlike the guy he's replacing.

I doubt if any coaching staff in the league shook in their shoes when they got the news Saban was coming back to the SEC and was going to be residing in Tuscaloosa. I doubt any fan base did either.

But I also doubt they took the news without some degree of belt-tightening and some degree of realization that their tasks just got a few degrees harder.

The SEC has never been a place for the timid or for those who don't like a challenge.

Every coach in it now has another challenge to overcome.

Saban - just as Spurrier did a couple of years ago with his re-entrance into the SEC - changes the landscape.

We'll see how much in the next couple of years.

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