LSU athletic director: 'huge' list of possible Saban replacements 12/26/2004, 10:12 a.m. CT The Associated Press BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU has a "long and huge" list of possible replacements for departing head coach Nick Saban, and it's likely to get longer over the next week, athletics director Skip Bertman said. The school hired a search firm to look for a successor nearly two weeks ago, when Saban began negotiating with the Miami Dolphins, Bertman said. Saban's announced Saturday that he had accepted the NFL team's coaching job, and Bertman said he aims to have a new head coach for the Tigers by Jan. 12 — the start of the open recruiting period leading up to the beginning of the signing period on Feb. 6. "Names have been given to us and now the search firm will activate to see and assess the interest level of candidates," Bertman said. "I think the fans would be surprised at how much work has been done already." LSU plays Iowa in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2. Bertman said a committee will be formed to help with the search, but that the final decision would be his. His choice must be approved by LSU President William Jenkins and the school's Board of Supervisors. Bertman said candidates to replace Saban could be college head coaches, NFL coaches, or college assistants and coordinators. He said he would try to include minority candidates. "We want somebody who has lots of college experience and success, obviously," Bertman said. Bertman lauded Saban for overseeing the most successful five-year period in the program's history: 48-15 since 2000, the 2003 Bowl Championship Series championship and four consecutive January bowl games. "He leaves it not just better than when he came, I think he leaves it as one of the plum, premier jobs in the United States," Bertman said. "Naturally, that's the kind of person that we want to succeed Nick."