Saban vs. Petrino: Worst Game Ever?

This morning on the radio, my man Chris Moore made mention of Saban and Petrino when discussing Rich Rodriguez leaving West Virginia for Michigan. When the two coach against each other in the SEC for an Alabama/Arkansas game, for whom do you root? In other words, could Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide taking on Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks be the worst game ever? That got me thinking (which is a dangerous thing, I admit it), has there ever been a game with two bigger villains pitted against each other? Could you imagine the type of hype surrounding the game when these teams meet?

I’m trying to consider what I would do when those teams play. Perhaps a 0-0 tie would be in order. Apart from Bama and Arkansas fans, is there any sports person in the country that actually wants to see either of those coaches succeed after their shenanigans? I can’t remember a match up of two worse villains recently, so I’m going to go ahead and say this would be the worst game ever. Maybe you can come up with a worse scenario that I could be forgetting. Until then, I’m going Petrino vs. Saban. That’s hard to beat.

Nick Saban Could Leave Bama

And it wouldn’t be a big deal. Want to know why? Because as The Feed points out, Nick Saban still hasn’t signed a contract yet! I’m not sure if this is a common practice or not (definitely not if you’re doing good business), but an attorney in the area says it’s not a huge matter:

“What it gets down to is, once you have the principle terms nailed down – salary, perks, assistant coaches’ salaries – the coach accepts the position based on that,” said Birmingham attorney Russ Campbell, who represents college and NFL coaches, including the Atlanta Falcons’ Bob Petrino.

“Once that happens, sometimes a coach signs a letter of intent, sometimes it’s just a handshake. But the coach’s camp gets comfortable. They say, `We’ve got our agreement.’ The rest of it is really items put in place to protect the university.”

This is not the first time a coach hadn’t signed a contract with Alabama after agreeing to coach the football team. They ousted Mike Price without reservations after the strip club adventure, even though he had been coach for four months. All because Price hadn’t yet signed a contract. The same whack practice came back to bite them in the butt when Dennis Franchione bounced to Texas A&M because he never signed what was believed to be a ten year deal. So like I said, Nick Saban could leave tomorrow without breaking a written deal (which for him isn’t terribly unlikely), and there would be 92,000+ Alabama fans crying for weeks.

Nick Saban Coonass Update

If you remember a few days ago I wrote about a story in which an audio clip of Nick Saban using the term “coonass” became public. To recap, Miami Herald writer Jeff Darlington emailed an off the record comment from Nick Saban to a sports show host in Miami who wound up playing it on his show. I was originally incensed that comments made off the record wound up being released to the public.

In fact, I contacted Jeff Darlington to see if he would speak about the incident in an interview. Jeff politely declined saying he was unable to do an interview at the time. It is important to note that he had a sincere tone and indicated a regret that the audio became public. I hope to follow up with Jeff in the future when he’s able to freely speak about the incident.

The aforementioned incident does raise an interesting debate. We know that Jeff intended to keep Saban’s comments off the record. The question I want to answer is this – is it ever the moral duty of a journalist to report on “off the record” comments? If a public figure makes blatantly racist or incriminating remarks, are those worthy of being reported?

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Saban Comments were Off the Record

After a little digging around, I’ve come to find that Saban’s comment (that you can hear in the post below) in which he uses the term “coonass” was made off the record.  From the Miami Herald:

“The coach’s slur was not initially published by The Herald because of the coach’s request for that portion of the interview to remain private.  Two weeks later, [Miami Herald reporter Jeff] Darlington e-mailed an audio file of the conversation that included the slur to 560-WQAM radio host Orlando Alzugaray, who aired the comments on his morning radio show in both South Florida and Mobile.”

Yet another reminder why you can never put something in print that is potentially incriminating or offensive, and how things can spread so quickly on this lovely internet (may larrybrownsports.com be so blessed). 

As for more details on the circumstances of the story – Saban says he was

“first told that story by LSU Board of Supervisors member Charlie Weems of Alexandria on Jan. 3. That was the day Saban took the job at Alabama and the night LSU beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.  Saban used the word coonass in later telling the story to a group of Miami reporters following a news conference.”

Memo to Saban - just because the comments were off the record doesn’t excuse you from what you said.  If you feel that “coonass” is an inappropriate term, then you should filter it when you re-tell the story (as you were doing).  The fact that you left it in there indicates your insensitivity towards the potentially derogatory nature of the term. 

I am not personally familiar with the term “coonass.”  However, knowing that it is taken with offense by a sector of the population is enough to keep me from using it.  Just because it is the norm to use the term in Louisiana does not make it OK.  In fact, the people who say it’s OK are probably the ones who aren’t the ones being called the name.

For the record, I would pay to see Nick Saban call a 5 star recruit of Cajun descent “coonass” in the family living room.

Nick Saban That Racist

That redneck yankee traitor Nick Saban is a total racist. Don't believe me, here is the audio of Saban's reported "coon ass" comment. If you listen, you'll notice the horrible quality of the audio. This detail indicates to me that these comments were off the record as Saban says. If Saban's remark was said off the record as Nick declares, then I believe the act of making the "off the record" comment public is worse than Saban saying what he did.