Sizing up Saban

Nick Saban held his first press conference in South Florida as Dolphins head coach on Tuesday afternoon, and it became clear very quickly this is a guy fully in charge and someone who will command respect.

In fact, the immediate reaction after the press conference was that Saban looks like a very impressive guy.

Not surprisingly, Saban didn't exactly reveal a whole lot while talking about his new job, partly because he needs time to talk to the Dolphins players and coaches, and also because he has some major decisions to make in the near future.

But some of his comments nonetheless were very interesting.

Perhaps the one that struck us the most -- in a good way -- came when he addressed his reputation as a defensive-minded coach.

Said Saban: "I'm not a defensive coach who plays conservatively on offense to protect the defense."

How great those words sound after five years of Dave Wannstedt, a guy who seemingly did everything with the defense in mind.

Saban pointed out that he believes in a balanced offense, and that his LSU both threw the ball (in 2001 when he had Rohan Davey at quarterback and Josh Reed and Michael Clayton at wide receiver), and ran the ball (this past season when Saban said he had quarterback problems).

Saban also took exception to the description of him as a "disciplinarian."

"I'm not a disciplinarian," he said, "I am disciplined in the process of what it takes to be successful."

Make no mistake, this press conference was done on Saban's terms, and one gets the impression everything around Dolphins land will be done on Saban's terms in the next few years.

There was some criticism of having the press conference on the same day as the Orange Bowl clash between USC and Oklahoma, and you can argue that point either way.

Unlike press conferences of the past, Saban did not conduct one-on-one interviews with local television and radio stations following the main press conference.

Saban's plate clearly is full in the next weeks, and he said his priority order was to evaluate the players currently on the Dolphins roster, hire a coaching staff, and then deal with free agency and the draft.

Saban met with three assistant coaches on Tuesday, one of them being interim head coach Jim Bates. Saban said both he and Bates needed some time to evaluate whether they could work together with the Dolphins and that they are scheduled to meet again next week.

Saban plans on meeting the rest of the coaches this week.

Saban indicated he would like his offensive coordinator to have NFL experience, but that criteria doesn't necessarily apply to every member of his staff.

There were no predictions of a quick turnaround, although you could just get the sense Saban believes the Dolphins will become winners again sooner rather than later.

A new era began Tuesday with Nick Saban, and at first glance it does look like the Dolphins got themselves a good leader.

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