A Good Week to Go Without Sports Talk

It's probably too late to do any good this time, but in the future please check out satellite radio for your listening pleasure in the car or at work where you can find an array of music of nearly any kind, public affairs and news programming from all over the country and around the world, as well as humor, home and garden specialty channels and, if you dare, various sports talk programming.

Or maybe the pop, country, classic rock or hip-hop station on your local FM dial will help you to be able to drive without getting the sudden urge to repeatedly bang your head against the steering wheel.

Sports talk radio in the state of Alabama hit a new low this week, and the only surprising thing is that Paul Finebaum wasn't the main culprit. And yes, lowbrow programming on ESPN Radio and Cold Pizza picked up the trash and ran with it like a loose football.

If you've been following Alabama football this week you have surely heard the inane discussion over a term used by Nick Saban that he felt compelled to clarify. You might not have heard, however, the name of Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington.

After a month of Saban being called a liar, snake and many other derogatory terms by supposed professionals, we now have the case of a Miami reporter making an error in professional judgment.

According to the Herald, the reporter disseminated an audio recording of an off-the-record portion of a conversation Saban had with South Florida reporters the day he was hired at Alabama. This recording spread like a virus onto the Internet and Mobile Register writer Neal McCready apparently played the clip on his radio show (and I don't think he was the only one), which is where the story apparently picked up enough traction to elicit a statement from Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, who wanted to add context to the audio clip.

That statement issued through the University of Alabama media relations department on Wednesday afternoon added another day's worth of fodder, which most state newspapers and at least some television stations reported on.

Alabama fans and at least a few reporters were flabbergasted that the controversy even merited newsprint, but it did. The most common reaction this reporter heard to the telling of the story was the question "That's all it was about?"

The decision of a radio guy/newspaper reporter to pick the audio off the Internet and broadcast it over his air showed the news judgment of a house plant.

As the story has recently turned, questioning the ethics of the reporter's irresponsible use of the audio recording, it will surely die because that is boring stuff. And maybe it would be untoward for one reporter to delve into how hard feelings between some members of the South Florida media and Nick Saban might have contributed to such a lapse.

Saban met with the Miami group after his introductory press conference in Tuscaloosa to answer all their questions about why he said what he said when asked about the Bama job during his season with the Dolphins. Most of that conversation was on the record and written about extensively in the Herald.

Saban could have handled it a different way.

When Dennis Franchione went from Alabama to Texas A&M, a few Alabama reporters went to College Station to try to get a word with Fran about how he left Alabama. He supposedly sent word for them to wait in another room where he would address their questions after his introductory press conference, but he never showed up. He stood the Alabama guys up and they never got to talk with him.

This week's episode potentially did further harm to responsible reporters intent on covering Saban's tenure as Alabama's coach. That's a bummer for those charged with that task. And unfortunately from any reporter's standpoint, it might have also legitimized Fran's method of avoidance of reporters rather than head on confrontation.

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