Motorcycling Isn't A Saban Pasttime

It's not hard to imagine most men who have been Alabama head football coaches on a motorcycle. Gene Stallings loved to ride, either on road trips, up in the North Carolina mountains, and early on Sunday mornings before there was traffic on the road in Tuscaloosa.



Really about the only Alabama head football coach in the past 50 years that one couldn't see on a motorcycle would be Paul Bryant. Bryant, in fact, had a couple of rules for his players: no playing basketball and no riding motorcycles.

The issue of motorcycles arose this week when Bobby Petrino, the head football coach at Arkansas, crashed his hog. He was at a press briefing with neck brace and plenty of road rash from his episode.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban doesn't have a policy that prevents his players from riding motorcycles. A few years ago star linebacker Rolando McClain had a motorcyle accident, though it didn't affect his play. (Saban doesn't have a policy against players playing basketball, either. This year during spring break, running back Blake Sims suffered a hip injury playing basketball, and he has missed the rest of spring practice.)

Following Wednesday's practice, Saban said, "We try to tell players that there are things that can be dangerous. I love motorcycles. I loved motorcycles when I was a kid. I was not allowed to ride a motorcycle when I was a kid."

But kids will be kids. Bryant wrestled a bear as a teenager, which was pretty dangerous.

Saban's best friend, Charlie Anderson, had a Triumph, which was a muscle motorcycle. "I mean that thing was hot," Saban said. He said they would race down the straightaway in front of his father's service station.

"Everytime no one was looking," Saban confessed, "I'd get on Charlie's Triumph."

One day he took it to go to his girl friend's house. "She lived on the side of the mountain and there was a curve and the water was running across the street, and a dog was chasing me down the street. (Petrino said the sun got in his eyes, about the only excuse Saban omitted.)

"I hit the water on the curve and slid out," Saban said. "I didn't get hurt, didn't hurt the bike. Just slid out.

"My dad found out and that's the last time I've been on a motorcycle. He wore me out."

Saban said he didn't know a lot about Petrino's accident. "I wish Bobby well," Saban said. "I hope there's nothing serious there.

"I'm glad to see that he does something that he enjoys doing -- get out on the country roads and do it.

"When we get out on the mountain (at his lake house in Georgia) there's all kinds of people out there riding motorcycles."

Not that Saban just watches the fast life.

"I try to enjoy life," Saban said. "I still waterski.

"I ride them jet skis as fast as they'll go, and every two years I get the fastest one they make to replace the last one.

"Miss Terry has a fit, but that's the way it goes.

"There are not very many things that I like to do. I try not to be stupid, but I'm not going to not do the things that I enjoy doing.

"You could get hit with a golf ball, and I like playing golf, too. You could have a fatal accident there, but I'm not going to not play golf because of it."

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