Star Jackson Missing Practice

Alabama Coach Nick Saban doesn't give his players the shaft, but he does call on his own youthful experience in a coal mine to keep underachieving players on course. That's why a back-up Crimson Tide quarterback has been away from the practice field the past few days.

Star Jackson, a sophomore quarterback who fell from second team to third team for Alabama late last season, had been absent from practice on Friday and Saturday, fueling speculation that he had given up the battle. In addition to being behind fifth-year senior and returning starter Greg McElroy this spring, Jackson was presumed to have been behind redshirt freshman A.J. McCarron, who had been listed number two going into last year's national championship game, and battling true freshman Phillip Sims, who entered The University in January.

It was reasonable to wonder if Jackson might not be considering a transfer and leaving the Crimson Tide after a handful of practices.

That is not the case.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said following Saturday's work that Jackson's absence from the football field was not related to football. "We have a system around here for academic, and guys have to conform to the system," Saban said. "And when a guy doesn't do what he's supposed to do in school, there's a point where I won't let him participate until he gets it straightened out.

"If he gets it straightened out in the next few days or a week, we'll let him back out to practice. But right now he's allowed to come to meetings. But when we go practice he's got to go do school work. When he gets caught up, does what he's supposed to do, we'll let him come back out to practice."

Saban said that Jackson had been doing well on the field. "He's worked hard and he did a good job in the off-season program," the coach said.

"But," Saban said, "the one thing that's going to affect the quality of his life more than anything else is when graduates from school. Guys that aren't sort of doing things the way that they need to do them to have success or develop the habits that they need to have to have success, we're not going to compromise that for them to play football. ?

"I'm not a big guy on punishment. I don't like to punish players. I don't think this is a punishment. If my kid was doing what he was doing, I wouldn't let him play either. I'd make him get his school work right just like my dad did when I was in the eighth grade."

Saban revealed he wouldn't get up in front of the class and sing in "Mrs. Sabinsky" music class. That earned him a ‘D' in eighth grade music. He said his father made him turn in his basketball uniform. And then he took the youngster into a West Virginia coal mine, "500-some feet deep in the shaft, and said, ‘If you don't go to school, don't get an education, this is where you're going to end up.'

"That's the last time I've been down there."

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