When I was on vacation this summer – I went to the Galapagos Islands to run with the bulls; alas, I was misinformed, so I ended up swimming with the tortoises – my pager went off alerting me to a news break, which I called up to find the following words, “Nick Saban Speaks Out.”
My Speedo nearly fell off my sleek, tan body by itself.
The Oracle of Tuscaloosa pontificating?
You could’ve knocked me over with an Alabama defensive playbook.
The iron-willed potentate was mad – more like apoplectic (a word seldom used by any Crimson Tide football scholars during their years at the university) – that a book, “Saban: The Making of a Coach” by Monte Burke, had been written about him.
Here are several of his comments verbatim from a news conference, in italics, followed by several of my comments:
“Now I’m going to make a statement about something because I thought surely you would ask. So this will be the last time this ever gets talked about. So no one ever needs to ask me because I’m going to tell you to pull it up on your little computer or Facebook or Twitter or whatever you do.”
Like Jim Boeheim, John Calipari and the other college coaching gods of imposing power, Saban’s above it all. He controls the narrative, he determines the agenda. And you need no further example of his disdain for the media (and the unwanted inspection they bring) when you hear him refer to “your little computer.” Yo, Coach, I do have a little computer – what, I’m supposed to carry a desktop around with me all day?
“I just want everyone to know that I’m opposed to an unauthorized biography – for anybody.… I think that’s some person you don’t even know trying to profit by your story.”
For starters, a free press pretty much examines what it desires, authorized or not. As for others profiting from Saban’s story, Saban is profiting from teaching 19-year-old faux student-athletes to run and tackle, which – from where I’m sitting on Facebook or Twitter or whatever I do – doesn’t exactly sound like puff-out-your-chest, save-the-planet stuff.
“One of these days when I’m finished coaching at Alabama, I’ll write an authorized book.
“There won’t be any misinformation, there won’t be any false statements, there won’t be any hearsay.”
That’s an interesting contention by Saban, considering he is a fountain of misinformation and false statements. Then again – in his defense – I don’t think he’s a “hearsay” guy, because he hardly cares to hear anything anyone else says.
Of course, none of us wants to be the subject of an unauthorized biography; “unauthorized” often means “unflattering.”
(But unauthorized is not always a bad thing; the American revolution, as I recall, was unauthorized.)
Okay, so I’m not authorized to speak about Saban, either, but I will say this:
Frankly, I’ve never liked the cut of his jib.
Sure, he’s a great football coach.
Beyond that, I wouldn’t trust him as far as he could throw a blocking sled.
He probably lies at a higher rate of lying than most contractors and congressmen.
Speaking of which, I am reminded of late 2006, when Saban – then coach of the NFL Dolphins – repeatedly denied he was Alabama-bound. He finally ended all speculation with the pronouncement: “I guess I have to say it – I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” Actually, he didn’t have to say it because two weeks later he took the Alabama job.
Alabama is paying Saban $6.9 million a year through 2021, making him one of the nation’s most highly compensated public employees. So he’s going to get some scrutiny, but it’s not like anyone is linking him to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.
As Saban loves to say, “It is what it is.” Or as I would love to tell him, “You are who you are.”
Anyway, I’ve got to go – start work tomorrow on an unauthorized biography of the Ohio State coach. Calling it “Urban Meyer: The Making of a New Coach Saban.” Thinking about asking Saban to write the foreword.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Which do you feel is more likely to happen – Donald Trump getting elected president, Pete Rose getting into the baseball hall of fame or the Seattle Mariners playing in October? (Mike Hall; Spokane)
Actually, when Trump takes office, he might recommend Pete Rose become commissioner of baseball.
Q. Does Tom Brady now have the right to see Roger Goodell’s cell phone? (Tom Kiley; Manassas, Virginia)
A. That’s just a bunch of calls to the dry cleaner.
Q. Do the NFL owners have a “general awareness” that they are paying $38 million to a commissioner who is doing more than anyone else to besmirch the integrity of their game? (William Schultz; Washington, D.C.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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