Saban downplays homecoming

As was the case when the Dolphins traveled to Tampa Bay a few weeks back, Sunday's game against the Saints offers a few interesting subplots. At the top of the list is Nick Saban's return to LSU, where he coached for five years before joining the Dolphins and guided to a share of the national title in 2003.

Saban could only joke when asked about the possibility of being cheered despite leading the visiting team: "I've been booed there before, too."

Saban also indicated he's not very big on nostalgia, and therefore is a lot more focused on preparing the Dolphins than returning to see some familiar faces.

"This game is really about our players and not about me going back to Baton Rouge," he said this week. "I have a lot of personal relationships there and good friends and people, but this is so much bigger than that, in terms of the game itself. My focus is on trying to get our players in the best position we can to have an opportunity to be successful. The other stuff is pretty minor."

Linebacker Zach Thomas had an interesting take on Saban going back to LSU's Tiger Stadium.

"He has a lot of fans there, he did a lot of great stuff there at LSU," Thomas said. "I'm sure there definitely are going to be a lot of cheers for him when he comes out on the field. With him, I feel like he's like that every week, like he's playing in front of his home crowd.

"He's not making a big thing out of it, but I'm sure with family and some friends there I'm sure that it would definitely be a good win. But we're just trying to get back on the winning track and that's all he wants, too. It's been a rough road the last three weeks. We haven't played well, but we show what we can do when we execute well and do things right, and we win."

Sunday's game also will mark Ricky Williams' first game against the Saints, the team that drafted him and then traded him to the Dolphins in 2002.

"It's been a long time," Williams said this week. "My career has taken a couple of different turns since I left there and the Saints have taken different turns since I left, so it's very different."

Williams did say that Saints coach Jim Haslett, who was instrumental in getting the running back traded to Miami was the one coach during his career with whom he didn't have a great relationship.

"It'll take forever to (discuss) everything that went wrong (in New Orleans)," Williams told writers who cover the Saints. "For me, I just was in a situation that at the time i wasn't mature enough to handle. Going through that situation and everything I went through, I didn't do a great job handling it. On the other side, I did gain maturity from it and was able to take what I learned there and come here and have a successful season.

"So many different things went wrong. I think after Coach (Mike) Ditka left, things for me kinda fell apart. I went from like the sweetheart of the organization to pretty much the goat."


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