Alabama head coach Nick Saban appeared to be in midseason form on Monday when he opened his press conference by scolding local media members for caring too much about seeing a depth chart before the season opener.
“I know your number one focus is not on the game, it’s on the depth chart,” said Saban to reporters. “Look, there’s a lot of competition on the team, and when we put a depth chart out, you all think that’s, like, final. Like it’s etched in stone and it’s going to be this way forevermore just because we come out of fall camp and that’s where it is. Creates a lot of distractions on our team. Creates a lot of guys thinking, ‘Well, this guy won the job now and I’m not going to play or whatever.’ And quite frankly, we don’t need that. I want all of our players to continue to compete. Continue to compete for playing time. To try to play at the highest level, and I don’t want anyone on our team to think they’re a backup player or whatever.”
Alabama not releasing a depth chart today. Nick Saban explains why pic.twitter.com/iwh3yPteiu
— Nick Kelly (@_NickKelly) August 28, 2023
For the record, this is the first time in Saban’s 17 seasons at the helm that the Crimson Tide didn’t release a depth chart the week of their season-opening game. Alabama hosts Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
While some have speculated that Saban’s sudden change of heart on depth charts might have more to do with young student-athletes and the way they consume such information, the way that the ornery head coach took out his frustrations on the media members on hand rubbed a lot of other sports media folks the wrong way.
“What I don’t like, and every time I say this people in Alabama get mad, I don’t like the bullying of the media,” Paul Finebaum said on the Matt Barrie Show. “Don’t bully people cause you can. Saban has made a career at Alabama and maybe elsewhere of bullying those who are weaker than him and don’t have the ability, and that’s just not a good look. That is my only complaint about this.”
Meanwhile, Fox Sports commentator Tim Brando took to Twitter/X to share his disappointment with Saban.
Nick Saban’s not delivering a Depth Chart is beneath him, despite likely giving the guys calling the game some semblance of lineups. He should be above that but clearly these days he’s not in the best of moods. I got in some trouble a few years ago condemning @CoachJim4UM, and…
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) August 28, 2023
“Nick Saban’s not delivering a Depth Chart is beneath him, despite likely giving the guys calling the game some semblance of lineups,” wrote Brando. “He should be above that but clearly these days he’s not in the best of moods. I got in some trouble a few years ago condemning [Jim Harbaugh], and HC’s can say or do whatever they like in todays environment. Why bully his local media in such a manner?
“When much is given, much is also expected and the Goat needs to act like the greatest as opposed [to] using your brand as a bully pulpit and that’s all this is! Using its “etched in stone” is a bit much, when the truth really is my QB room ain’t what it used to be.”
Brando later added that his response was less about whether or not Saban released a depth chart and more about “his verbal delivery towards his local media that was more heinous.”
For what it’s worth, ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy, who played under Saban at Alabama, thinks people are reading too much into the decision.
“A lot of people are reading into this assuming that there’s some type of issue …. I didn’t read into it too much, especially knowing who they play Week 2, that being the Texas Longhorns.” McElroy said Tuesday on SportsCenter. “And the fact last year Middle Tennessee, that’s who they have this week. They did give Miami a run and knowing the quarterback position specifically, the offense could be altered significantly by who the starting quarterback is.”