'Bama Taking Big Expectations Into Saban's Debut Season

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Nick Saban couldn't bring any high-profile free agents with him from the NFL. No hulking defensive linemen, hard-hitting linebackers or powerful right tackles to instantly fortify the roster.

Saban himself was Alabama's megabucks addition, an undersized, middle-aged coach, not an All-Pro quarterback. But his return to college ball from the Miami Dolphins was enough to send the always-high expectations surrounding the Crimson Tide soaring even higher.

A winning record? A decent bowl? 'Bama fans and players are thinking much bigger, for the near future if not this season.

Cornerback Simeon Castille said he expects Saban to make the Tide a contender for SEC and national championships again.

That would be considered a good return on Alabama's 4 million dollar a year investment in the former LSU and Michigan State coach that made him the highest paid in the college ranks.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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