Stuart McNair

Alabama Coach Nick Saban indicates Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones will play

Alabama’s Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones have had internal discipline

Alabama Coach Nick Saban isn’t interested in what other people think may be “justice” in the case of Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones. He is handling things the best way for his program, using all the facts he has at his disposal. Fans and media have wondered if game suspensions could still be in the offing.

“Cam Robinson and Hootie (Jones) were not charged with anything,” Saban said at his Wednesday SEC Media Days appearance in suburban Birmingham. “I think the facts we (as a staff) have are a little different than sort of advertised. Both players have done a significant amount of things to change their behavior internally, whether it was a police ride-along, community service for juvenile groups that need role models and influences to make better choices and decisions.”

Robinson and Jones were arrested in their hometown of Monroe, La., last spring and charged with drugs and gun violations. The district attorney elected to drop the charges against Robinson, a star offensive tackle, and Jones, a safety.

 “I think the prosecutor made his decision based on their whole body of work,” Saban said. “We’ve viewed this (situation) as (that) if these guys do these things to change their behavior and help these other people, and that is ongoing, that will be how this matter is handled internally.”

Translation: don’t be surprised to see both players in action against USC I Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas.

Saban said both men would have the chance to play in the opener, provided they complete all the requirements he’s laid out for them between now and then. Robinson is expected to start at left tackle, while Jones is a candidate for the dime back, when the Tide employs six men in the secondary.

Saban chose not to discuss any specifics about the gun and marijuana charges that were dropped against Jones and Robinson. He did say “What Cam’s done for our program has been all positive.”

Another man who was a candidate for that afore-mentioned dime job was Maurice Smith, but he plans to transfer out of Tuscaloosa upon graduation in August. Saban said Alabama is not trying to prevent graduate transfers such as Smith from moving on, but does agree with the SEC rule requiring a year in residency within the league. Translation: There is a better chance Smith ends up in Miami with Mark Richt than in Athens, Georgia, with Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker. Saban said Jones won’t be released to an SEC school.

(As an aside, senior safety Eddie Jackson said some players can't handle the business side of football and mental toughness that comes with it, which results in transfers. His remarks were not aimed specifically at Smith.)

Saban said the usual things about his quarterback needing to “win the job and the team” in the main Media Room, but in a TV room a few minutes later he reflected specifically on junior Cooper Bateman. “Cooper  is our most experienced player there, but the completion (of the competition process) is not something that can be forced. Cooper has the best understanding of our offense. We’re waiting to see how well he can win team over, but pleased with him so far.

“Quarterback is the most important position on our team. The guy’s got to be able to manage the offense and win over his teammates. He’s got to display some consistency in making plays inside the offense.  Those are some of the things that we’ll continue to look at.”

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Saban was asked about the political unrest in America in places like Baton Rouge and Dallas regarding civilians and police shooting each other. “I don’t know if it could be implemented nationally, but what we do is have police officers come eat dinner with our players,” Saban said. “They come watch us practice. We sometimes have ride-alongs with local police so our players can see what it’s like to be a police officer. It creates awareness and respect, and helps build relationships with authorities.”

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