Saban rips ‘pimp' agents

HOOVER, Ala. - Alabama head football coach Nick Saban spent much of his time at Wednesday's SEC Media Days discussing his likes and dislikes.

His likes include new Tennessee head man Derek Dooley. His dislikes include unscrupulous agents who are guilty of "entrapping and taking advantage of these young people at a difficult time in their life." Although noting that many agents operate within ethical and legal boundaries, he grumbled that others exploit athletes much as pimps exploit prostitutes.

Alabama's Marcell Dareus is among a number of college football players currently being investigated on charges of improper contact with agents. Saban said the root of this evil is easily recognized.

"I don't think it's anything but greed that is creating it right now on behalf of the agents," he said. "I hate to say this but how are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people … none. I mean none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"

Saban is no stranger to agent problems. Star offensive tackle Andre Smith missed Bama's Sugar Bowl appearance two years ago because of his entanglement with an agent.

"We had an issue a couple of years ago with Smitty, who got suspended for the Sugar Bowl," Saban recalled. "You know, we probably could've prosecuted the guy (who made illegal contact with the player) but in prosecuting the guy that did wrong we would have put our institution in jeopardy – possibly – from an NCAA standpoint.

"So we didn't do it (prosecute). But then the same guy is standing in line trying to give our players money this past year, and nothing gets done about it."

Saban's disdain for shady agents was matched by his apparent respect for Dooley, who served him as an assistant for seven years with the LSU Tigers and Miami Dolphins.

Calling Dooley "a fine young coach" who did "a marvelous, marvelous job for us for seven years," Saban also praised Vince Dooley, Derek's father for being "one of the greatest coaches of all time, in my opinion, in this league."

Saban knows facing his former aide this fall will be interesting, since he was on the other side of a teacher/pupil rivalry when he faced New England Patriots head man Bill Belichick in years past.

"We always competed well against each other but we never lost respect for who we were," Saban said, later adding: "I will have the same kind of experience (with Dooley), even though we have to compete against Derek at Tennessee. It's a rivalry game for us and for them, as well (but) we'll never lose respect for him and his family and what he's done."

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