Nick Saban was put on the hotseat Monday by Ian R. Rapoport of the Birmingham News over how the Alabama coach plans to get his roster down to the NCAA limit of 85 scholarship players.
By Rapoport’s account, Saban will be six scholarships over the limit when an expected 25 freshmen enroll for fall classes. Given the public interest in Saban’s math skills — he can certainly add up all those numbers on a contract that pays him $3.75 million this year — this was a fair question. And it no doubt is a question several Crimson Tide players and their families would like answered because it appears a few kids are about to lose their scholarships.
Pressed by Rapoport, Saban was at his combative best/worst — depending on your perspective — when trying to explain or not explain how this scholarship reduction would be accomplished.
It certainly appears that Saban is not looking out for the kids as much as he is looking out for himself, which has been the case throughout his career.
When dealing with the media, Saban remains nothing short of a jackass. Last week, he apparently raised a stink about a blog post by Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press-Register. Estes was merely informing his readers that reporters are not allowed to watch Alabama scrimmages or practices.
Then Ray Melick of the Birmingham News revealed that Saban had allowed a crew from FSN South to film an all-access look into the program. The coach also has been letting prep coaches and prospects into practices.
Wrote Melick: “And now we know what it takes to ‘open’ Saban’s program: Show him where it benefits him, particularly in recruiting, which is the currency of most value in Saban’s world.”
As for Saban being a man of his word, forget about it. Who can forget last Nov. 17, when the coach suspended standout receiver DJ Hall for a game. That game, of course, was against Louisiana Monroe. And this was not a particularly good Louisiana Monroe team, making the timing of the suspension even more suspicious.
But with the Crimson Tide struggling to a 14-14 tie with the Warhawks, Saban lifted Hall’s suspension at halftime. Hall’s return still wasn’t enough as the Crimson Tide lost, 21-14, leaving the coach to issue a $4 million apology to the good people of Alabama. Losing to Charlie Weatherbie made it worse. Weatherbie was the lowest-paid coach in Division I-A. It’s enough to make a coach’s hair turn gray.
This is how Saban summed up back-to-back losses to Mississippi State and Louisiana Monroe: “Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to a catastrophic event. Pearl Harbor got us ready for World War II or whatever, and that was a catastrophic event.”
The last thing Crimson Tide fans needed was another reminder of the loss to Louisiana Monroe. But they got it, thanks to a billboard that was put up on Interstate 20, the route fans would take to watch the team play in the Independence Bowl.