Another loss, another excuse. Just another day at the office for Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Or was it?
During SEC Media Days on Wednesday, Saban complained about the NFL’s draft grade system, which allows non-seniors to apply for an evaluation before declaring whether or not they will leave school early. Saban said this process can negatively impact “team chemistry,” especially since it occurs right before bowl games.
Many took this as Saban making an excuse for Alabama’s 42-35 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
“I think in the context of what he said, if you listened and put into perspective of what he said and the context of what he said – which I realize in today’s media landscape (is difficult) – sure, it comes across as him making an excuse,” Tuscaloosa News Alabama beat writer Aaron Suttles told Damon Amendolara and Jason La Canfora, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And listen, I butt heads with Nick Saban a lot. I don’t carry water for the guy. It’s not my job to be a (cheerleader) for that program. But to be fair, I was in every room he spoke in yesterday. He was addressing questions about juniors and the NFL feedback they get as it relates to the draft process and how he’d like it moved back a week. The quick sound byte that came that he was complaining, making excuses – that that’s the reason they lost to Ohio State – I never heard it that way. A lot of people did. So I guess it depends on which way you heard him and what you thought his message was.
“Unfortunately, when you’re Nick Saban, when you speak, everyone listens,” Suttles continued. “And he does generally when he comes to big media events like this have a couple topics he wants to discuss, one of which is usually a national topic. And this year, you can tell that’s kind of his message and where he wants to go. And I think it was a message delivered actually to Urban Meyer, to Les Miles, to guys or programs that are going to deal with several players they have this year having to go through this. (He’s saying), ‘Let’s . . . move this date back.’ But it came across as whining. And when you’re Alabama and you’ve got No. 1 recruiting class after No.1 recruiting class and you haven’t gotten it done the last two years, it comes across as you’re making excuses.”
Okay, let’s say for the sake of argument that Saban wasn’t making an excuse. Isn’t it hypocritical for him to tell players not to worry about money or the next level when he’s done that several times in his career?
“Oh, absolutely it’s hypocritical,” Suttles said. “Look at the recruiting material that Alabama produces where they use the signing bonuses and the salaries that their players have gotten through the draft to recruit high school kids. If you’re going to use that to recruit guys into your program, you can’t then turn around and say, ‘Hey, they were distracted because (they were thinking) about the money.’ Of course they want to make some money. Every one of the 85 kids on scholarship have dreams of playing at the next level. It’s not going to happen, but they all do – and you use that to help sell your program. So don’t (then) in the same breath turn around and complain about it.”