Think again if you expected an even slightly contrite Nick Saban when he faced the media Monday and answered questions about the dismissal of Jonathan Taylor from the Alabama football team. Taylor, whose past included arrests while he was on scholarship at Georgia for double-cashing meal checks (felony charge) and violence against his girlfriend which included both striking with a closed fist (more than once) and attempted strangulation (two felony counts on the violence against the girlfriend), wound up on scholarship at Alabama where he was arrested this weekend for violence against his (presumably new) girlfriend.
When he answered questions about Taylor Monday, Saban wasn’t the least bit apologetic. If anything, he sounded defiant.
“I'm not sorry for giving him an opportunity," Saban said. "I'm sorry for the way things worked out. I'm not apologizing for the opportunity we gave him. I wanted to try to help the guy make it work. It didn't, work. So we're sorry that it didn't work and we're sorry there was an incident and we're sorry for the people that were involved in the incident. But we're not apologizing for what we did and we're going to continue to create opportunities for people in the future and we'll very, very closely evaluate everyone's character that we allow in the program because we all have the responsibility to represent the University of Alabama in a first-class way."
Saban’s comments clearly irked ESPN television and radio personality Paul Finebaum. Considered by many an Alabama/Saban apologist, Finebaum called Saban out on ESPN2 Sports Center.
“I don't understand what Nick Saban was trying to accomplish at this press conference,” Finebaum said. “He had a great opportunity to show some contrition, admit that he made a mistake, but he refused to do that."
At the press conference, Saban also said about Taylor, “I still think he’s a good person.”
To that, Finebaum asked, “How could you possibly say that after what we know about this young man?"
Finebaum is on the mark with his criticism. There is nothing wrong with giving second chances in life but the scholarship to Taylor went beyond a second chance and Saban knows it. It’s one thing to offer an opportunity to someone who has been to trial and paid a price for a mistake but Taylor still hasn’t gone to trial for the two arrests and three felony counts from his time at Georgia. Saban can spin it any way he wants, but signing Jonathan Taylor wasn’t about giving a kid a second chance. It was about understanding that his 3-4 defense can’t stop teams like Auburn (630 yards and 44 points) or Ohio State (537 yards and 42 points) if you don’t have a monster in the middle. Jonathan Taylor (6-4, 340 pounds) was going to be the reincarnation of Terrence Cody, the 6-5, 370-pounder who made it next to impossible to run the ball against Alabama in 2009.
The way Finebaum put it, Saban must be feeling the heat because he’s gone two years without a national championship.
“This is a different day,” Finebaum said. “This is also a coach who is coming off a bad loss to Ohio State. This isn’t a coach going for his third national championship and I think some things have changed a little bit in Tuscaloosa.”
Note: The arrest of Taylor and starting safety Geno Smith’s second DUI arrest in the past year (also this past weekend) bring to seven the number of Bama players arrested in the last year.
Odds to win the NCAA title:
Michigan State 7/1
On Sunday, CBSSports.com and other outlets reported that Marshall had (a) told Alabama thankee but no thankee and (b) was prepared to listen to Texas and likely to take the job when offered.
As of Monday night, Marshall had spent approximately seven hours in Wichita meeting with Alabama athletic director Bill Battle, who was rumored to place a six-year, $25 million offer on the table. When Battle’s plane took off for Tuscaloosa Monday at 6:30 p.m., Battle was on the plane. Marshall wasn’t.
That Battle would leave without Marshall would seem to indicate that either (a) Marshall said no; (b) Marshall wants to talk to his players and administration at Wichita State before taking the Bama job; or (c) Marshall is waiting to hear from Texas so that he can weigh the offers and decide which one is best.
Complicating matters is a Monday report by CBSSports.com and other outlets that former Gator assistant and VCU coach Shaka Smart is (a) engaged in contract discussions with Texas and (b) likely to take the job when offered.
Before Steve Alford took the UCLA job, the folks in Westwood thought Marshall was their guy. Before California hired Cuonzo Martin, they were certain Marshall was their guy. At the same time the Cal people were talking to Cuonzo, the Tennessee folks were talking to Marshall and they were sure he was the guy who would be Cuonzo’s replacement.
Either Gregg Marshall is awfully picky and unwilling to leave Wichita unless he’s found the perfect job or else he’s a drama queen. Whatever the case, he is obviously in his element.
Just when it appeared that Tennessee was about to make a deal to hire Butler coach Chris Holtman, Texas fired Rick Barnes. Exit Holtman, who signed a contract extension at Butler, and enter Barnes at Tennessee.
Rick Barnes is a very good basketball coach. You don’t win more than 600 basketball games if you can’t coach the game. He can also recruit. Some of the best players in the NBA played for Barnes at Texas and they swear by the guy.
At Texas, Barnes probably should have looked for another job when DeLoss Dodds retired as athletic director and Steve Patterson was hired from Arizona State. Barnes and Dodds saw eye-to-eye. There was never anything like that connection with Patterson, who was an NBA executive prior to getting into college sports and reportedly wanted to bring in his own guy from the day he was hired. Patterson will get his own guy now and Barnes gets new life in Knoxville.
This is a good hire for the Vols, who will be the fourth coach in five years. Barnes can recruit and he runs a clean program. The Vols are in desperate need of good players and after Tyndall, they definitely need a coach who understands how to play by the rules and can establish some continuity in the program.
Former St. John’s All-American Chris Mullin is coming home to try to resurrect that program and make it relevant again … George Mason is finalizing a contract with Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen … Fordham has hired Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer … Mark Pope, who played for Rick Pitino at Kentucky, is the new head coach at Utah Valley State … Utah State hired long time assistant Tim Duryea to succeed Stew Morrill, who retired with 402 wins at the school.
The following players are either leaving early for the NBA or looking to transfer to another school. It’s a list that is going to grow exponentially in the next couple of weeks.Michael Frazier, Florida: Brush up on your Spanish, French or Italian because you won’t be playing in the NBA next year.
R.J. Hunter, Georgia State: He’s NBA bound. Does his dad take a better paying coaching job?
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: He will be among the first 20 players taken in the NBA Draft.
Terry Rozier, Louisville: He has elevated his stock significantly and figures to go first round.
Damion Lee, Drexel: He will graduate in May and has eligibility. He’s a 6-6 slasher who can score (21.8 points per game). He will be in demand.
Myles Turner, Texas: His draft stock has dropped but he will still go somewhere between picks 10-18.
Rashad Vaughn, UNLV: Dumb. Unless he blows people away at the combine, he’s mid to late second round.
Jarell Martin, LSU: Mid-to-late first round. His family needs the money so he had to go.
B.J. Johnson, Syracuse: He sat the bench at Syracuse. He can be a star at LaSalle. Sits out next season.
Rakim Lubin, UConn: He’s 6-8 and from Buford, Georgia. He will transfer somewhere in the south, sit a year and have three years of eligibility.
Max Hoetzel, Indiana: He’s a California kid who’s heading home. A 6-8 power forward, he averaged 2.4 points per game as a freshman at IU.
Junior Etou, Rutgers: He’s 6-7 and a native of Congo. A strong defender who is offensively challenged, he will sit next year and have two years remaining.
Anton Gill, Louisville: This is all about PT. He’s from Raleigh. Expect him to transfer to UNC-Wilmington to play for former Louisville assistant Kevin Keatts.
Trey Lewis, Cleveland State: Averaged 16 points per game. He’s eligible immediately. Florida State could be his destination.
Brandon Randolph, Xavier: California kid who will likely head back home. Two years of eligibility remaining.
Johnathan Williams III, Missouri: He hasn’t announced that he’s transferring yet, but it’s expected that he will within the next day or so.
Nick King, Memphis: He was a bad fit at Memphis and with K.J. and Dedric Lawson coming in next year and their very shady dad a member of the coaching staff at Memphis, it is time to go. Still a big time talent.
There have been seven players arrested at Alabama in the past year. Prior to the arrest of Jonathan Taylor do you think the football media had been giving Nick Saban a pass?
I couldn’t decide on one single song today so I decided today’s music would be one of my favorite albums, John Mayall’s 1973 album “Ten Years Are Gone.” The great horn arrangements make this an album worth collecting if you’re really into great blues.