Budgetary constraints?

Jerry Angelo has met with defensive coordinators Lovie Smith and Romeo Crennel about the head-coaching vacancy, but the college ranks are also a possibility.

The team is also likely to look at some college coaches with LSU's Nick Saban, Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and perhaps Oklahoma's Bob Stoops on their list. Saban, Friedgen and Ferentz all have experience in the NFL. Angelo is likely to contact those coaches through intermediaries and set up interviews only if they express interest. The meetings are likely to be conducted in complete secrecy if they take place in order to protect the coaches' ability to recruit.

Saban, a close friend of Jerry Angelo's dating back to their time together as assistant coaches with Syracuse during the 1970s, has already been mentioned for the Giants job and the Falcons. Saban would likely be out of the Bears price range if he wins the national championship, sources said, because that would immediately give him a $1 million bonus along with a contract boost of $1 million more than the richest deal in college football which is the $2.5 million Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops makes.

That means Saban would be scheduled to make $4.5 million at LSU next year. The coach has tried to keep a very low profile about his NFL opportunities as he prepares for the national title game. Hasn't Saban already announced he'll return to LSU next year, Angelo was asked.

``If he said that then he's out of the picture," Angelo shrugged. ``I don't know anything I'm going to do to unsay what he said. So once again, that will all run its course."

Most NFL types think Saban will land in New York or Atlanta if he decides to bolt LSU. Amid reports that Saban has already contacted at least one coach who might work with him in the NFL, his wife, Terry, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that the timing is not right for Saban to leave LSU.

``I'm not saying never, but we're not going anywhere this year," Terry Saban said. ``The administration has shown they are committed to him. But the biggest reason, besides the whole family thing, is that his staff has worked so hard to recruit for four years, the top recruiting class year after year, that you look at the bench and the young talented players. And in an exciting conference I don't want anybody else to coach these guys. I don't think Nick wants to let anyone else coach these guys."

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