Saban Anguished Over Auburn Action

"I guess we're 5-7 away from the same thing," Nick Saban said Wednesday in response to Auburn's firing of its head football coach, Tommy Tuberville. Saban exhibited a range of emotions—disgust, anger, disbelief–in discussing the situation of fired college football coaches.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban ordinarily opens his press briefings with a comment that relates to his team's performance or preparation. He then takes questions from reporters.

The Crimson Tide is currently preparing for a huge football game. Bama, 12-0 and ranked number one in the nation, will meet Florida, number two in the nation with an 11-1 record, in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta Saturday. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) with television coverage by CBS. The winner goes to the BCS National Championship Game.

Saban did talk about preparation and he did talk about Alabama players and Florida players. But before he took any questions, he voluntarily issued a comment on the situation of three SEC coaches – Phil Fulmer at Tennessee a few weeks ago, Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State last week, and Tommy Tuberville at Auburn Wednesday.

(For the record, a release from Auburn reportedly said that Tuberville had resigned, although Inside The Auburn Tigers said sources told them the coach was fired.)

Saban said, "There have been several coaches that have been let go in our league that have a pretty good body of work behind them. They've been really good coaches. They've been really good for the game. They've been good for a lot of players, and they've had very, very good programs. I've talked about Phillip. I've never really ever talked about Sly -- Sylvester -- and Tommy. Those guys are really good coaches. They've done a good job for a long time. They've got a tremendous body of work.

"I really question some of the judgment relative to how it is for our game that people who have those kind of relationships and have done that kind of job and affected so many people in a positive way–and have had a reasonable amount of success–would not be given more respect and consideration than what these guys have been.

"I guess we're 5-7 away from the same thing."

Was Saban's recruiting success somehow responsible for Tuberville's firing?

"Shouldn't have," he said.

There were a couple of times that Saban seemed to gather himself before speaking on the situation. After one such pause, he said, "When you see a program start to lose toughness, discipline, those types of things, that's one thing. That's not the case. That wasn't the case at Tennessee, it wasn't the case at Mississippi State, it wasn't the case anywhere."

It can't help but be noticed that four coaches–Fulmer, Croom, Tuberbille and Clemson's Tommy Bowden–lost their jobs after losing football games to Saban's Crimson Tide, most recently Tuberville's Tigers being trounced, 36-0. That's one-third of the 12 coaches on the other side of the field from Saban and on the losing side this season.

As he sometimes does, Saban went a bit far afield in insinuating Tuberville's firing was the fault of the media. He suggested coaches had been fired because of unrealistic expectations, created by reporters.

Oh, for such power. But it is Saban, not the media, who more likely brought down Fulmer and Tuberville, particularly. Alabama's coach has the Crimson Tide's top rivals in panic mode.

Who is next?

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