Guerry Clegg commentary: Nick Saban responds like Nick Saban

sports@ledger-enquirer.comMay 17, 2014 

Alabama Football 2014 Spring Practice

Alabama's Nick Saban speaks during his Spring season press conference, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at the Mal Moore Athletic Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Saban said Monday that he has always been an advocate for players rights. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)

VASHA HUNT — AP

The video of Nick Saban's latest rant isn't nearly as harsh as the transcript. Not that there can be a nice way to tell someone to "kiss my …" well, you know. But on video, Saban's terse reaction to a question he didn't like comes across as more of a crude afterthought than a deliberate insult.

Actually, as Saban rants go, this was fairly tame. But it was also just … pointless.

Why go on the attack? A reporter asked a legitimate question. Former West Virginia quarterback Pat White, who played his high school ball at Daphne High in Mobile, had posted on Facebook that Alabama offered him a Corvette to sign with the Crimson Tide. An Alabama sports information representative tried to diffuse the moment by noting that White was recruited back in 2004, long before Saban even imagined he would one day wind up at Alabama.

But the problem is the context of White's post. It came after current Alabama running back Derrick Henry posted a picture of himself and his brand new car and insinuated that this was his prize for signing with the Crimson Tide. White's post was completely unfair to Henry. Just because he was a five-star recruit coming out of high school does not mean that his family didn't buy the car for him.

Regardless, Saban might have been genuinely caught off guard by the question. He seemed that way when he replied, "I didn't even know it happened, so I can't comment on it."

OK, fair enough. Just leave it at that.

Had Saban left it right there, there would have been no story. There would have been no headline. There wouldn't be 10 pages of Google results just from the last week when doing a search for "Nick Saban Pat White." It wouldn't have made USA Today, or CBSsports.com or NBCsports.com, or the New York Post, or virtually every sports page in the country.

Only, Saban can't leave well enough alone. That's not his nature. So Saban added, "Is that the best thing we can talk about? Kiss my …" well, you know.

Saban isn't the first high-profile coach to get blind-sided by an unpleasant question. It especially happens in the offseason, when coaches travel to give speaking engagements so they don't have to try to survive on a mere $7 million a year. It happens more often than you might think. But most coaches handle it without showing their … well, you know.

Maybe Saban just can't help himself. Perhaps it's part of that whole DNA makeup thing that makes him the best coach in college football. After all, intimidation seems to be his favorite M.O., which works better with college kids than it does NFL veterans.

Personally, I don't think so. I think he's the best coach in college football because he out-recruits everyone, because he demands perfection from his coaches as well as from his players. I think he's the best because he's the most meticulous CEO of any college football program.

Or maybe he enjoys belittling people. This certainly wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last. He came to town in 2009 to speak to an Alabama club and a reporter dared to ask him how he would guard against high expectations after going 12-2 in 2008.

"A lot of people are picking Alabama to win the national championship …" she said before he cut her off.

"Why do you say everybody is picking us …"

She didn't say "everybody." She said "a lot of people." And that was a factual statement. Many people were picking Alabama to win it all (which the Tide wound up doing, you might recall). It was a perfectly legitimate -- and harmless -- question asked in a perfectly professional way, but twisted in a strangely paranoid way.

But we have come to expect that from Nick Saban.

-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at sports@ledger-enquirer.com

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