Nick Saban goes off on Paul Finebaum, defends not suspending players (Video)
Nick Saban and ESPN’s Paul Finebaum got into a heated discussion during SEC Media Days on Wednesday that got even more animated when the two were off the air.
It all started when Saban was asked about two of his players, All-Pro offensive lineman Cam Robinson and defensive back Hootie Jones, being arrested back in May on drug and weapons charges. The charges ended up being dropped, and Saban implied that neither player will be suspended for the season opener against USC as long as they continue with their community service efforts.
Finebaum wasn’t satisfied with the conversation ending there, noting that people are going to be critical of Saban if he doesn’t suspend two players who were riding in a car with drugs and weapons. Saban began to lose his cool. Here’s a video:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) July 13, 2016
“I don’t really care to answer the critics, because I’m gonna do what’s right for the players,” Saban told Finebaum. “If the players really did anything that wrong, they would have gotten charged with something. There were four people in the car. Why did the two football players get arrested and the other guys not get arrested? There’s no law about concealed weapons in Louisiana. Why did they search the car just because there was a gun on someone?
“There are reasons why there weren’t charges brought against these guys. Do we condone the behavior? No, but you’re innocent until proven guilty in this country regardless of whether you get convicted in the media or not, which is what you’re doing to these players.”
Saban said that was the “end of the conversation,” but he was still fuming when the cameras stopped rolling. AL.com captured some footage of Saban ripping into Finebaum off the air:
We have video of a HEATED exchange between Saban and Finebaum once they went to commercial break: https://t.co/AKUo7gUbQb
— John Talty (@JTalty) July 13, 2016
AL.com’s Michael Casagrande shared some details of what Saban said to Finebaum during the commercial break.
Within earshot of media, Saban launched into a four-letter tirade directed at Finebaum. In it, he used his fingers to note the small amount of marijuana found in the car and insinuated the arresting officers were disgruntled LSU fans.
Saban typically has very little patience with the media, and you can see a great example of that in this video. While Finebaum is a known agitator, he has a point in this situation. Even if there wasn’t enough to prosecute Robinson and Jones, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t face more than a slap on the wrist for riding around with guns and drugs — no matter how small the amount.