by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist
It has been just a few days since St. Nick made his Christmas Day announcement that he was giving himself the Miami Dolphins as a present.
Most of Dolphin Nation is quite pleased with this turn of events. Heck, even Don Shula has given his imprimatur.
So naturally, the debate has immediately swung into what Nick Saban will/should do and how he will/should do it.
At the top of this debate is whether or not Saban should wear both the head coach and general manager hats. Some feel that it would be better to continue the dual power system the Dolphins have in place today.
Me? I have always believed that if a coach is accountable for cooking the meal, he should be allowed to shop for the groceries.
This unique philosophical spin was originally made famous by none other than Bill Parcells, a man who doesn’t have such formal authority in Dallas.
But don’t be fooled; Parcells wields significant influence in deciding which players the Cowboys choose.
Put another way, Parcells has veto power over anything Jerry Jones might ‘suggest’.
And so it should be in Miami. If the Dolphins are going to get their ship headed in the right direction, they can only have one captain. This is especially true when there are major changes needed and the people in power haven’t shown that they can get the job done.
That’s why the clean up job that Jim Bates has done is so impressive. The mess that is the Miami Dolphins is a lot bigger than people think.
Fixing what’s wrong with the Dolphins is going to take a lot more than splashing perfume on a pig. Hard decisions must be made, and they must come from a man who does not have preexisting biases towards anything currently inside the football organization.
What the Dolphins have right now is just not good enough, starting with the players on the field.
Saban is a superb judge of talent, one of the major strengths that lured Wayne Huizenga to his doorstep.
But don’t think that Saban is going to do all the dirty work himself. Like any gourmet chef, he will fill his kitchen with competent and talented sous chefs to do the prep work he needs in order to work his magic.
Obviously, the prime decision will be whether or not A.J. Feeley should continue as the starting quarterback. While Feeley has shown a lot of improvement over these past couple of months, Saban will have to judge whether or not Feeley can complete the journey.
As for the rest, Saban can pick ‘em fine. Just understand that he will need to find someone to do the due diligence in a manner that suits him.
Is that man Rick Spielman?
Now, to his credit, Spielman has a reputation for being very thorough with his due diligence. This can be of tremendous benefit to Saban, a man who relies on good information to support his gut for good players.
Saban and Spielman will have some blunt conversations this next week. Can Spielman overcome the disappointment of being dethroned and wholeheartedly accept a return to his old job? Can Spielman deal with working with a man who approaches things quite differently than his predecessor did?
Be it Spielman or someone else, just know that Saban will surround himself with people in whom he trusts to do things his way.
This includes his coaching staff, where his most important hire will be an offensive coordinator in whom Saban can count on to fix things. This could mean a complete change in offensive philosophy. It will certainly include recommended personnel changes.
Defensively, it would be a coup if Saban and friend Jim Bates could come to an understanding that would keep Bates in Miami.
Of course, other teams have watched Bates at work and may come calling. How could anyone not be happy for Bates in that circumstance? He earned it.
Still, no one who wants the Dolphins to succeed relishes the sight of Bates anywhere but in Miami. No one understands the current defensive scheme and players better than he.
Who better to give Saban the straight scoop?
Add it all up and you’ll see a collection of smart people who will be helping Saban run the show. Just know that Saban isn’t into democracy. He will make the final decisions.
He will set the tone. He will make sure that things are done right. He will accept the fruits of victory and the rotten eggs of defeat. He will control his own destiny.
And why not? Nick Saban is a winner, with a resume that sparkles. He knows what it takes to win and doesn’t want (or need) an overseer telling him any different.
Counselors yes, obstructionists no.
Advisors yes, “yes-men” no.
His proven track record as a coach has earned him this opportunity. The hard work begins on January 3rd.