The background is that in January Alabama brought into The University and into the Crimson Tide football program a junior college transfer, Jonathan Taylor, who had once been a defensive lineman at Georgia. It was a controversial, unpopular with Tide fans decision when Bama Coach Nick Saban brought Taylor on board because Taylor had been booted from Georgia after being accused of domestic violence.
Last weekend Taylor was arrested after a woman told police that he had physically abused her. Just on the charge, under Tuscaloosa policy, he had to spend 12 hours in jail. Shortly after he was released from jail, he was dismissed from the football team, Saban explaining that Taylor had been allowed into Alabama under strict guidelines with zero tolerance.
On Monday, Saban met the media in a regularly scheduled press briefing in which he discussed practice and injuries, as normal, and then took questions, every one of which involved either Taylor or senior safety Geno Smith, who was also arrested last weekend. Smith was charged for the second time in his Bama career with driving under the influence. Saban said that Smith would be given a third chance with some specific and arduous qualifications.
In regards to Taylor, Saban said he was sorry that it did not work out, but defended his policy which he said had provided second chances for many players who had gone on to be productive and take advantage of their opportunity.
To hear some critics, one would have thought that Saban said the woman deserved what she got. In fact, Saban’s career at Alabama has included players hearing from numerous lecturers on being good citizens and one of the points of emphasis has been how men must deal with women.
The Alabama situation was exacerbated Tuesday when running back Tyren Jones, who was already “indefinitely suspended” from the football team, was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana. He, too, was immediately dismissed from the team.
Now comes news that the woman Taylor was charged with abusing has recanted, saying that she gave a false report to police. In fact, she was charged with that crime and briefly jailed.
What does that mean?
It means a second chance, but not for Jonathan Taylor. It is a second chance for Nick Saban to make a firm statement regarding men abusing women. It is a national problem, and Saban apparently did not make the point clearly enough in his Monday briefing that he abhors the practice.
What will Saban do? Who knows. Coaches are legend for doing the wrong thing over and over; going for it on fourth down and losing games and then one day having the fourth and long fake work for a first down and saying, “See, we coaches know more than you fans.” That’s not to say that others aren’t as stubborn, but they are not in the public arena.
Among other things that Saban knows, or should be told, is that abused women recanting their stories is not rare. Many abused women don’t report it at all and many who do report it later say it didn’t happen.
Alabama got into a bad situation by bringing Jonathan Taylor on board even if Taylor was not guilty of abusing the woman last weekend. For Saban to bring him back would open himself and The University of Alabama to another round of criticism. And to bring Taylor back and then have another incident would be beyond irresponsible.