If Nick Saban had a nickel for every time he's been called "Satan," well, he'd have a lot of nickels.
It's an easy pun. Saban rhymes with Satan. We get it. Plus Saban's grim and intimidating personality adds to the metaphor.
The Alabama head coach doesn't care about sticks and stones though. He likes to settle things on the field and as recent history shows, he's pretty good at that. The Crimson Tide did just win its second national championship in a row and third in four years. Not to mention Alabama is poised to finish with one of the nation's top 2013 recruiting classes with one week to go until National Signing day.
But the latest on the Saban name-calling front came from Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. While speaking at a Macon (Ga.) Central High sports banquet this week, Franklin said, "There's this guy in Alabama. I think his name is Nicky Satan. You guys have probably heard of him before. I'm going to outwork him. I'm going to outwork him. And that's kind of our plan every single day."
In just his second year at Vanderbilt, Franklin led the Commodores to their first nine-win season since 1915, which ended with a Music City Bowl win over NC State. He was speaking at the high school this week as part of a recruiting trip. One of his 2013 commits, linebacker Nigel Bowden, was in attendance.
"Obviously, tremendous respect for Coach Saban," Franklin told the paper. "I just got off the phone with him. Tremendous respect for them. I've got tremendous respect for what they've done. Everybody is chasing them.
"[I was] really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for, and that we're going to outwork them. I made a joke. And in today's society with all the media and social media and people with tape recorders and things like that, that doesn't come off that way. I know people have tremendous pride in Alabama, and their fans are fanatical. So I understand. But it was a joke and I didn't mean to offend anybody."
Although a UA spokesman did not respond to a request for a comment from Saban, Nico Johnson, who is preparing for the NFL Draft, took to Twitter.
"Who is this guy James Franklin? Mad disrespectful. Lucky Bama don't have on schedule. Mad motivation for them tho…" he tweeted.
The last time Alabama and Vanderbilt played was in 2011 and the Crimson Tide won 34-0. They didn't play this past season and won't in 2013, either.
The Tennessean also reported that Franklin and Saban are on good terms now.
"He's got a lot on his plate right now with recruiting, I have a lot on my plate right now with recruiting," Franklin said. "We spoke briefly. He said, ‘Coach, I have a lot of respect for what you guys are doing up there at Vanderbilt.' I said, ‘Coach, I've got tremendous respect for what you're doing.'
"And that was it. Got off the phone and that was it."
For more Alabama coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!