Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had plenty of testy interactions with the media over the years, and those continued this week in advance of the Crimson Tide’s game against FCS school Charleston Southern. Charleston Southern quarterback Austin Brown transferred to the school from the University of Alabama-Birmingham as part of the Blazers’ (brief) elimination of football, so a media member asked Saban about Brown’s FCS experience. Here’s video of his heated response:
And a transcription of the key part:
“You all might be taking the week off this week,” Saban said. “But I’m not.”
It built from there. He said he gets asked questions about young players seeing playing time in games like this. (None, for the record, were asked in meetings with local reporters this week)
“Well how in the hell do you know they’re going to get to play,” Saban said. “What makes you think you can just assume that they’re going to get to play. Because you’re assuming the other team is not very good? They do have a Division I quarterback. He plays like a Division I quarterback.”
Saban’s motivation for this rant? The 302 rushing yards FCS team Georgia Southern put up on Alabama in 2011. (Never mind that the Crimson Tide still won that game 42-21 and went on to win the national championship.)
“I don’t think we had a guy on that field that didn’t play in the NFL and about four or five of them were first-round draft picks,” Saban said. “And I think that team won a national championship, but I’m not sure.
“And they ran through our ass like s*** through a tin horn, man. And we could not stop them. Could not stop them. Could not stop them because we could not get a look in practice. We couldn’t practice it right? And everybody said the same thing in that game. Y’all took a week off. This wasn’t important, so it’s not important to anybody else. It has to be important to the players and it has to be important to us.
Saban went on to top himself in terms of his famed process references, comparing football to…marriage?
“Everybody gets excited for the beginning of the season and you get excited about getting married. But after you’re married for a while, you’ve got to have a process to make it work. And no matter what happens, we need to have a process to make it happen in every game we play. Every game that we play. Can’t assume anything.”
“I don’t even know what you asked me. I just wanted to say that.”
This is a funny rant from Saban, but it’s also a disingenuous one. First off, the question he was asked was a legitimate one about Brown’s experience, and it wasn’t one that’s even close to the alleged disrespect of the opponent he’s ranting about. Moreover, as al.com’s Michael Casagrande notes, it’s unclear if anyone actually asked Saban the questions about young players playing he’s complaining about; Casagrande said local media didn’t. Beyond that, Saban’s talking about disrespect for an opponent and how seriously Charleston Southern needs to be taken based on a game from four years ago where Alabama doubled a FCS opponent’s final score. The FCS against FBS history is far from stellar; as of August 2014, FBS (former I-A) teams were 2028-423-18 (.824) all-time versus FCS (former I-AA) teams, and there were only four all-time occasions where a team ranked in the AP poll (Alabama’s currently #3) lost to a FCS team. We have seen more FCS upsets lately, but the chances of this even being a mildly-competitive game are still low, so if there was disrespect for the opponent in media questions (something that there doesn’t seem to be full proof of), it would probably be deserved.
Also, if Saban doesn’t want questions about how his team faces a low-calibre opponent, perhaps he and Alabama shouldn’t schedule FCS teams? They’ve made their bed with their scheduling decisions. Complaining about media accurately covering the calibre of their opponent and that opponent’s actual chances seems a bit much. Then again, taking shots at the media seems to be part of the process for Saban…