Saban Teeters On His High Horse

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - July 28, 2010
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Alabama coach Lou Saban at SEC Media Days last week

It had never occurred to me what an equestrian Nick Saban is.

Perhaps his West Virginia upbringing should have been a clue. His days as a defensive back at Kent State don’t offer much of a hint. They are the Golden Flash after all, which according to their logo is some sort of deformed bird.

So if his appreciation for being in the saddle had been expressed over the years, most of us have missed it.

But now, the coach who has made a career of peddling his services to the highest bidder has climbed aboard his high horse and to show his disgust with agents who exploit players too young and too naive to know better.

Saban has likening them to pimps.


Yet he is the one who has enriched himself off the flesh of young men just to discard them once their usefulness no longer served his purpose for more control and more money.

So who’s the real pimp? Agents are a problem, no doubt. But the biggest problem with college athletics is not the vultures that lurk for prey safely beyond the protected borders of the athletic department. It is the coaches and administrators whose entire economic future is tied to sweet talking even younger players who, to borrow a phrase from Saban, are “at a very difficult time in their life.”

Saban feels agents are dishonest - this from the very coach who chastised journalists for reporting he was going to leave the Dolphins for Alabama, going so far as to make a definite statement that he wasn’t headed to Tuscaloosa. Of course, this was after he left Michigan State for LSU and LSU for Miami just a year after signing a $18.45 million contract.

While most coaches hide their hypocrisy through double-talk or silence, Saban let it fly at the annual SEC football media day while discussing defensive end Marcell Dareus, who was reported to have attended a party thrown by an agent in Miami.

Saban has a plan to clean up the mess in which he accepts no blame and puts the burden elsewhere.

“What should be done is the NFL Players Association says if you have anything to do with making a player ineligible by your illegal contact or breaking any rules relative to our profession, then you get your license removed, and you can’t collect fees unless you have a license,” he said during the press conference.

Saban continued his youa culpa by saying “If they don’t do something to clean up the agents then I am for college football and college coaches doing something because we treat the NFL better than anyone in the country.”

So what’s stopping him from getting started now?

Pimping ain’t easy, and it sure isn’t honest.

If a player suddenly has a fly ride or his parents go from modest means to being featured on Cribs, why raise a fuss and risk losing games and therefore jobs?

Pete Carroll coveted celebrity to help promote his program. He swam with Will Ferrell, hung with Snoop, and when his loose control of the program began to catch up with him, he bolted for the NFL.

But he wasn’t guilty. Just ask him.

“Reggie Bush wasn’t Reggie Bush when he was a sophomore (in 2004),” said Carroll to Sports Illustrated in reference to his former tailback who the NCAA says took some $300,000 in cash and prizes from agents.

“People ask, ‘Why wouldn’t you have known this or that; why didn’t you anticipate this or foresee that?’ He wasn’t Reggie Bush then.”

Carroll’s convenient bout with memory loss is amusing considering that in 2004 Bush was the team’s MVP and finished fifth in Heisman voting.

But why let facts get in the way of a good lie? Carroll got his. He, like Saban, is richer and now has greater control with which to feed his ego.

Yes, agents are pimps. So are coaches, Nick. Quit pointing a finger and just shut up.


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