Category Archives: Nick Saban Rules

“I’m not sorry for giving him an opportunity. I’m sorry for how things worked out.”

Holly Anderson tries to figure out how Alabama got itself into the pickle it did with Jonathan Taylor in this excellent piece, or, as Spencer Hall succinctly phrases it,  “why the hell did Alabama even bother with Jonathan Taylor in the first place?”.

Spencer goes on to say “Because he’s good at football isn’t a good enough answer”, and that may be a start, but my feeling about why it did so is that the simpler truth is, well, because it could.  When you operate in an environment where nobody questions your decision making, it’s not surprising that at some point you become imbued with a sense of personal infallibility. Sure, Nick Saban appreciated the talents of Jonathan Taylor and how those talents could benefit the Alabama program, but more than that, Saban believed he had the Taylor situation under control from the start, simply because he’s Nick Saban.

Saban is not a bad person.  He’s not corrupt.  He is shrewd and directs a program that has almost unlimited resources with which to operate at a pinnacle virtually unmatched in college football.  Alabama recruits like nobody’s business.  That’s both its glory and the reason bringing Taylor into the mix is such a puzzle to some.

Call Alabama a victim of its own institutional hubris, if you like.  It’s as good an explanation as any.

And now that Taylor has taken his third strike, where do things go for Saban and Alabama?  Holly pretty much diagrams the first play when she writes,

The Taylor episode will subside, at worst, into what will euphemistically be called a “distraction” for the football program. It won’t take long. That particular elision when we discuss these things, that inertia, takes hold so quickly, so insidiously. Difficulties, you know. By the time we all reconvene in July for SEC Media Days, Saban will be deploying that “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed, but also mad” face full-time. He’ll rattle off whatever combination of word-pap he has calculated will get him out of that topic the quickest, in a tone of stern patience that says we should know better than to ask. And truth be told, maybe we should. We already know how much good it’ll do anyone.

And that, unsurprisingly, is where Saban quickly went at Monday’s press conference.

6:40: Saban on Jonathan Taylor: “I think it’s very unfortunate that the guy came here with some very specific guidelines and zero tolerance and obviously didn’t live up to that. While we’ve created many opportunities for players through the years, sometimes those things have worked out extremely well, we’re sad to say in this case it didn’t. We all take responsibility for that.”

“We all take responsibility”?  As in the school as well as the player?  Well, maybe.

Or maybe not.

Owning up to a share of the responsibility, it seems to me, would involve shedding some light on why Saban thought – really thought, not offering up some second chance bullshit about a football player who still had outstanding legal issues to resolve in Athens when Saban made the call – the decision to give Taylor an Alabama scholarship was a defensible one. Or as Hall puts it,

And yes, I’m pretty sure Nick Saban shouldn’t have touched him in the first place, but that’s not the repellent part of the conversation here. That the first question asked is: What is or isn’t in the interests of a college football program? That’s the move, to run to the institution and fret about its decisions and the reputation of the extremely wealthy men running this institution, and not about the people involved. That’s the nauseating thing after the act to me. It just is, and even after trying I can’t really even begin to articulate all the reasons why.* It just feels like failure in every goddamn direction, including this one.

Yeah.  But that’s not the kind of thing a person immersed in a sense of infallibility is going to be forthcoming about on his own.  I’m not sure Saban is even ready to be honest with himself about why he did it.  And so at the presser, he ended the discussion in the only way he knew how.

Though I’m not sure the passive-aggressive handling of the media and the resort to euphemistic gobbledygook is going to be the end of this story, no matter how much Saban wills it to be so.  Because there is still one wild card out there – the victim.  And while Bill Battle nauseatingly equated her situation with that of her alleged attacker’s by hoping both could deal with the situation “constructively”, there are several ways for her to take his suggestion.

The obvious one being under advice of counsel.

The 6-foot-4, 335-pound Taylor is accused of choking his victim in the Athens case. According to Tuscaloosa police, Taylor’s 24-year-old female victim had “minor injuries to her neck from the assault” this past Saturday.

That has put Alabama, which went to great lengths to defend Taylor’s admission, at considerable legal risk. Taylor was dismissed by the Crimson Tide on Sunday, and it’s likely the university will take similar steps this week.

In the end, will it come to a threat of litigation?  There are plenty of reasons in this day and age to think it never will – everything from local hostility (think how the FSU community reacted to the Winston matter) to taking care of business behind the scenes – but if she elects to pursue the school to hold it accountable for its poor judgment, and people like Saban and Battle face a future where both are forced to answer questions under oath in a deposition setting, trotting out the old standby “let’s move on” won’t cut it.

Which, ultimately, is why it’ll never come to pass.  Infallibility sometimes has to be enabled.  And if there’s one resource Alabama has plenty of, it’s enablers.  Meanwhile, I guess we’ll wait for Geno Smith’s inevitable return to good graces and the starting lineup.

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Is there a Fourth Chance U out there?

If ever there’s a moment when Mark Richt says to himself, “there but for the grace of God go I”, it’s probably about now.

Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor was arrested Saturday night and charged with domestic violence third degree assault and domestic violence third degree criminal mischief, according to the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

This time, it’s somebody else who’s lost control.  (I eagerly await Kirk Herbstreit’s condemnation.)

“We recruited this young man out of high school,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in February. “We felt that what we knew about him, what his high school coaches said about him, from what people at the school he was at said about him and where he came from in junior college that he was the kind of guy that deserved a second chance. “But with that chance we also have stipulations and things that he needs to do from a personal-development standpoint so that he won’t make any kind of mistake like this again. That’s an on-going process with him. That’s something that we continue to monitor, and it’s something he’s done a very good job with.”

So much for the Process. You can assume Taylor’s gone, because Saban doesn’t have time for that shit. But tomorrow’s presser ought to be epic.

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UPDATE:  PAWWWLLL!!!

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UPDATE #2:  The deed is done.

Zero-tolerance for some who was already in trouble with the law? Hokay.

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UPDATE #3: Mark Schlabach rips Saban and ‘Bama a new one. And here’s a great quote:

Make no mistake: Alabama’s decision wasn’t about rehabilitation and second chances. It was about winning, and now the Crimson Tide look like big losers — from the top down. It’s not like Alabama is Louisville, where Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino seems to take any SEC reject as he tries to build his program. The Crimson Tide have the pick of the litter when it comes to recruiting. For whatever reason, they chose a troubled prospect with fleas.

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UPDATE #4:  The AD’s statement.

First Rule of Holes, dude.

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Everybody’s got questions.

I don’t think that those of you who believe Georgia should emulate Alabama more had this in mind:

… here are three teams from the SEC that have the most work to do between now and the end of spring practice:

Alabama: Alabama is near the top of many preseason top 25 polls for two primary reasons: talent and coaching. The fact that Nick Saban is among the best coaches in college football is undebatable. The fact that he and his staff sign the best high school prospects is unquestioned. But while those things are extremely valuable, they’re far from the entire equation. No, the bell cow of the SEC faces more than its fair share of questions this spring. No one knows who the starting quarterback will be. Derrick Henry is enormous and quite talented, but he’s never had to be a feature back before. Absent Amari Cooper, it’s hard to say what the receiving corps will look like. And that’s just the offense, never mind a defense that’s struggling to find its identity after ending last season on a poor note. The secondary is one giant mystery without Landon Collins and the linebackers are without their leader in veteran Trey DePriest. In all, 13 starters must be replaced. To get back to the national championship, it’s going to take a new cast of characters and likely a new identity, one that must be forged early in the offseason so it has time to take root.

There is a certain ring of familiarity there, eh?

Don’t cry for Nick Saban, SEC fans.  Somehow, I expect he’ll muddle through.

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You gotta spend money to make money.

Maybe this will make the folks at Butts-Mehre a little calmer about dishing out the money lately:

For Alabama’s athletics department, both expenses and revenues continue to grow. As a result, the school again finished with a surplus in the 2013-14 financial report submitted to the NCAA in January.

According to the documents obtained by AL.com, Alabama’s athletics department made 33,050,145 more than it spent in 2013-13. That’s an increase from the $27.2 it made in 2012-13 and continues the trend of surpluses in recent years. It hasn’t operated at a loss in the last 10 years, according to documents obtained through the public records requests.

And don’t think this tidbit won’t catch a few eyes.

The athletics department transferred $9.1 million back to the university last year after contributing $5.9 million a year earlier.

Yada, yada, yada, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

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Nick Saban’s got his standards, y’all.

“Tyren Jones has been suspended indefinitely for conduct not to the standard of the Alabama football program,” head coach Nick Saban said in a statement through Alabama media relations.

“Conduct not to the standard of the Alabama football program” – my Gawd, if Jonathan Taylor meets that standard, what in the hell did Jones do?

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The futility of chasing an absurdity

While they came off as slightly negative though realistic, a poster late yesterday mentioned that, while this certainly is a good class, it doesn’t have quite the oomph as a top 1-2 SEC class. For example, 15 (or roughly half) of our recruits had a 3 star rating, with a few 2 star ones as well. Meanwhile, the top classes typically have very few 3 star recruits, but instead are loaded with almost all 4 star guys with 3-4 5 star ones.

So while the Bama’s of the world load up on 4-5, 5 star talents, with 15 or so 4 star players, again we hauled in our typical 1-2, 5 star guys, with around ten 4 star recruits. Certainly a noticeable yearly difference, especially when combined over a 3-4 year period.

3rdandGrantham

I hate to pick on 3&G here, since that’s a fairly common sentiment I see expressed in the comments section here, but how many of you who believe Alabama’s recruiting performance under Saban is something attainable in Athens think there are other SEC programs managing to do just that?

Because reality disagrees with you.  Strongly disagrees.

The Tide has had the No. 1 overall class in each of the past four years. No other SEC team has even managed to crack the top ten in every one of them. LSU is the only school to even get to second in this span, and it did it once. I’ll go over quality numbers later, and they make Bama look even better if you can believe that.

Over the last four classes, Georgia’s average signee was a four-star kid.  That puts Georgia in the company of LSU, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M.

But not Alabama.  When it comes to highly ranked recruiting classes, no SEC school is even in the same zip code with the Tide.

Remember how I said the quality numbers make Alabama look even better? Every single class Nick Saban signed had an average rating above 93. The closest anyone else got to that number is Florida’s 91.50 in 2012. No one else can claim an average rating above 90 for the whole four-year span, and Bama is sitting on a 93.41. It’s absurd.

Might I suggest we quit with the ‘Bama recruiting comparisons?  There are no “Bama’s of the world” in the plural sense.  There’s just Alabama. Nobody else in the conference does Saban like Saban does Saban.

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Degrees of scummitude

Just when I think we’ve plumbed the depths of Bobby Petrino’s character, he up and says something about signing Devonte Fields that literally makes my skin crawl:

“I think we have a really good understanding of what went wrong, what happened,” Petrino said. “Talking to the attorneys and really knowing that we felt comfortable that, No. 1, there’s absolutely no gun there, and it’s a misdemeanor charge.”

Well, that’s a relief.  Petrino has standards.

At least you can say Fields is only getting a second chance.  At Alabama, Nick Saban is giving Jonathan Taylor a third one.

“The guy was charged. There’s no question about that,” Saban said. “He was accused. I can’t discuss the circumstances of all that. I’ve said this before: When people are young and they make a mistake — and that is not a mistake that we condone in any way, shape or form, that it’s any disrespect to any person, let alone a female — that there isn’t some occasion to not condemn them for life, but to give them another chance. And it’s up to them to prove that they deserve that chance.”

“Disrespect” – in that Taylor allegedly struck his girlfriend with a closed fist and choked her, that’s one helluva euphemism.  The thing with that approach is why stop at three?  If Taylor screws up again and disrespects somebody else, why condemn him for life at that point, either?

Nick feels your pain, peeps.  To an extent, anyway.

Saban said he understands the “sensitivity” about taking Taylor, who has unspecified behavioral stipulations imposed by Alabama. Taylor’s high school and junior college coaches spoke highly of him, Saban said.

Notice who Saban conveniently doesn’t mention?  That’s because you never want to ask a witness a question to which you don’t want to hear the answer.

What I love with both of these situations is the coaches piously insist they can’t discuss the surrounding circumstances.  That makes the tap dancing so much easier.  Ugh.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban Rules