Nick Saban had a heated exchange with Paul Finebaum at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, this after Finebaum questioned why Saban didn’t suspend Cam Robinson and Hootie Johnson following their May arrest in Monroe, La.
Both players were charged with possession of marijuana and illegally carrying a firearm in the presence of narcotics. Robinson was also charged with possession of a stolen firearm, which is a felony. Ultimately, though, Ouachita Parish district attorney Jerry Jones declined to prosecute the players due to insufficient evidence.
So, who was in the right Wednesday? Finebaum or Saban?
Actually, it was both.
“We wanted (Saban) to suspend Cam Robinson and to suspend Hootie Jones, and quite frankly, Saban says, ‘I’m not going to do it unless I have a valid reason, and the fact that the DA did not charge them lets me know that they don’t feel like there were any charges there,’” ESPN and SEC Network college football analyst Booger McFarland said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I thought the exchange yesterday was a very good exchange. I thought that Paul had to ask the right questions – and he did – and I thought that Nick came across like a coach should, which is (as) a guy who defends his players. Coaches are always going to defend their players, especially when they think they’re right.”
Saban also suggested that the officers who arrested Robinson and Johnson were LSU fans, as the other two passengers in the car were not arrested. Given that Alabama has beaten LSU five straight times – and held LSU to 17 points or fewer in all five games – that’s a distinct possibility.
One must wonder: Can LSU beat Alabama at Tiger Stadium on Nov. 5? Can LSU actually throw the ball enough to complement Leonard Fournette?
“That’s the million-dollar question,” said McFarland, a Louisiana native who starred at LSU in the 1990s. “I asked Les Miles today what’s going to change? What’s different? He talked about how the quarterback has gotten better. Well guess what? He told us the same thing last year, and Brandon Harris hasn’t gotten any better. Honestly, we do not know what we’re going to see. I know one thing: 8-4 won’t get it in Baton Rouge. If LSU goes 8-4, there’s going to be wholesale changes because there’s enough talent on that team to beat anybody. There’s enough talent on that team to play for a College Football Playoff championship.”
Then again, people thought the same thing after LSU’s 7-0 start last season. Then the Tigers lost three straight – to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss – by a combined 52 points, ultimately stumbling to a 9-3 finish. Miles, on the hottest of hot seats, somehow found a way to keep his job.
“Les Miles, he’s kind of playing with house money,” McFarland said. “Everyone thought he was dead and gone last year and he kind of worked this magic and ate some grass and came back to life. I think he realizes, ‘What do I have to lose right now? Do I have really anything to lose?’ Some people think he has no pressure. Some people think he does. But I do think LSU has to do something different.”
Even if Harris is only marginally better, LSU can also lean on sophomore running back Derrius Guice, who rushed 51 times for 436 yards (8.5 yards per carry) and three touchdowns last season.
“If you’ve never heard of him, call me back in about five months and say thank you,” McFarland said. “Because I’m telling you right now, they got the best 1-2 (running back) punch in America.”