Alabama is always in the football spotlight, and sometimes that light exposes the Crimson Tide players in unfortunate situations. From the end of Spring practice until the beginning of Fall drills – which was Thursday in Tuscaloosa – most college football news is not good news.
Alabama has had to deal with so-called “off the field” issues and following the Crimson Tide’s Thursday practice, Bama Coach Nick Saban addressed those situations.
The most notable was the late spring arrest of All-America left tackle candidate Cam Robinson and back-up safety Hootie Jones in their hometown of Monroe, La., on drugs and guns charges. Those charges were dropped by the district attorney, but that didn’t end the conversation about the situation.
And Saban didn’t let it go with the dropped charges, either. Both Robinson and Jones were given extensive responsibilities, and earlier this summer Saban indicated that he was not inclined to add game suspension to the penalties.
On Thursday he said, "Those guys have done everything they're supposed to do and if they continue to do that, I feel like they've done a good job. Unless there are other issues that come up, I don't know that any kind of further punishment is going to help their behavior. I think they learned their lesson. I think when the facts came out, things were not what they seemed to be and I'm not going to comment on that anymore."
In recent days the big news on talk radio/television and the Internet has been Maurice Smith’s attempt to circumvent the Southeastern Conference rule on transfers within the conference and Alabama’s adherence to the rule.
On Thursday, Saban revisited his position provided at SEC Media Days, that the SEC requires a player transferring from one conference team to another to sit out for one season.
Saban said, “I know there's a lot of talk out there and interest about the Maurice Smith deal. I'm going to say the same thing I said at SEC media day: Nothing has changed. We support the SEC rule of not granting guys' releases to go to other SEC schools. It has been our policy here not to do that unless there was a special circumstance.”
And Saban also addressed the “special circumstance” of Alabama allowing wide receiver Chris Black to transfer to Missouri without penalty. Black had undergone elective, season-ending surgery during the 2015 season. His scholarship was not renewed, and so he was permitted to transfer. Saban called it “an exception, not the rule.”
Smith, however, had his scholarship renewed.
Saban added, “Maurice did a great job for us around here. We want to help him every way that we can and he has opportunities to go other places outside the league and we are supporting him and helping him do that. So that's all we can say about that.”
Late in the summer, Alabama offensive guard Alphonse Taylor was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. Although that case has not been announced as adjudicated, it was revealed that the field sobriety test conducted on Taylor showed no sign of alcohol in his system.
Saban said, “Alphonse Taylor has gone through a program – pretty significant program, pretty intense program – and we have cleared him to practice. But we have not made a decision, and it will be based on what he does and how he does it as to whether that suspension that he had will be lifted when the games come. I’m not ready to make that decision right now and I don’t think we have all the information we need to have to be able to make that decision.”
Also in the news is that backup wide receiver Daylon Charlot has elected to transfer.
Saban said, “Daylon Charlot, fine young man, did a great job here and made a tremendous amount of improvement.
“I think that a lot of young guys right now, they get really, really fearful of their future and it creates a lot of anxiety. They think if they change environment, that’s going to help solve that anxiety and help them be able to get where they want to go. We certainly feel like we can help guys develop here, but if they think that there’s a better way for them, another place, then we’re going to support them in every way that we can to help them do the things they would like to do if they don’t want to be in our program here.”
Finally, Saban was asked about the status of junior defensive back Tony Brown, who was suspended for the two games of the College Football Playoff as Bama won the 2015 national championship, and who reportedly was going to be suspended for the first six games of the 2016 season.
There have been reports of Alabama “appealing” that penalty, hoping to reduce the penalty to four games of 2016 since he had been suspended for two at the end of 2015.
Saban said, "We're sort of having a work in progress with the NCAA. At some point in time they'll give us a decision based on what they feel is their punishment for him or whatever. When that comes, we'll let you know. We're preparing for the season as if he's going to be suspended for several games."