University of Alabama

ALABAMA NOTES Saban downplays kicking controversy

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban fired the latest shot over the bow in the white tape debate with South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier.

In response to the Gamecock coaches’ claim of wrongdoing in Saturday’s 20-6 loss to the Tide, Saban said video footage confirmed South Carolina committed the same infraction it accused Alabama of perpetrating.

Spurrier claimed Tide holder P.J. Fitzgerald’s use of a small piece of white tape to mark the spot of extra points and field goals was illegal. He reported the rule violation that would bring a 5-yard penalty to the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday morning.

After doing their own investigation, Saban said more than half of the SEC teams use similar illegal practices to help identify the spot for kicks.

By his Wednesday afternoon news conference, Saban appeared agitated when asked about the issue again. His response was thick with sarcasm.

“It’s a five-yard penalty,” he said. “Are we going to have this discussion about somebody lining up offsides?”

Saban went on to say he was glad the issue was brought to his attention because he wouldn’t want to be penalized in a future game.

“I don’t want to get caught up in anything like Watergate, because it wasn’t really about the crime. It was about the cover-up,” Saban said with as the sarcasm building. “So we aren’t trying to cover this up and I certainly don’t want to get in trouble with that because this is really an important thing — really an important thing.”

In response to Saban’s counter-accusation of committing the same infraction said to have taken place in a 2007 home game with Mississippi State, Spurrier apparently had enough.

“If we did that last year, why didn’t they turn us in,” Spurrier told reporters in Columbia after Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “Shoot, I’m available to turn in for anything if it’s illegal.”