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Nick Saban denies comments were criticism of Nate Oats

Nick Saban in an Alabama shirt

Sep 11, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban made some comments recently that were interpreted as a strong message to Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats, but the seven-time national champion insists the timing was a coincidence.

Saban spoke with reporters last week about his decision to suspend Tony Mitchell after the freshman defensive back was hit with a drug-related charge. Saban said players have to be held accountable for their decisions and that there is “no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The wording from Saban ran in direct contrast to what Oats said about Crimson Tide star Brandon Miller after news came out that Miller had driven the gun to the scene that was used to kill 23-year-old Jamea Harris in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 15. Oats said that Miller was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Saban was asked on Thursday if his comments had anything to do with the way Oats and Alabama handled the Miller situation. He claimed he never heard Oats’ comments in the first place.

“That was strictly about our program and what we do. It had nothing to do with anybody else,” Saban said. “I don’t make any comments about anybody else. We hope the basketball team does really, really well.”

Even if Saban is telling the truth, it is clear that he does not agree with how Oats dealt with Miller. The freshman is Alabama’s best player, and he was not disciplined by Oats or the school. That led to some serious criticism. Miller then had a historically bad NCAA Tournament, which led to Alabama making an early exit.

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