Let’s start with the obvious at Alabama.
There was no academic fraud. There was no cash exchanged between a coach and a player or a booster and a recruit. And nobody representing the university snuck an outside linebacker onto the roster with a swimming scholarship, so help me Bear Bryant.
So really, obtaining and distributing free textbooks barely cracks the school’s NCAA violation depth chart.
But somebody had better wake up in Tuscaloosa — Nick Saban will be gone before lunch tomorrow.
Saban might be the best coach in the SEC (I say might because I figure that debate’s for another blog.) He wins. He doesn’t cheat. He’s in demand. The fact he’s a liar is just a byproduct of that because, well, he can get away with it.
The point is, Nick Saban doesn’t need Alabama. It’s the other way around.
But as much as everybody wants to classify athletes getting free textbooks for friends as some trivial no-no, this is the fourth time in 14 years the Tide is in violation of NCAA rules: 1995, 1999, 2002, 2009.
Saban isn’t sticking around if this doesn’t stop. He doesn’t need this. He can have almost any job (save the Miami Dolphins). The problem is, he’s at Alabama, where coloring outside the lines has been pervasive for decades. What’s the chance the place suddenly turns into Rice?
Something will happen. Something always does at Alabama. It’s why I just don’t see Saban sticking around long term.
I’ve got two questions for anybody who considers this NCAA matter trivial:
1) It was found that 201 student-athletes in 16 sports obtained free textbooks for friends. Do you really believe that all 201 student-athletes did this out of sheer friendship and nobody received compensation in return?
2) If 201 student-athletes in 16 sports spread across campus were doing this, how plausible is it that not one single coach, official, teacher, administrator or ballboy knew about this?
See how quickly something “minor” becomes major?
Alabama officials almost gloated in 2007 when the football program finally was clear of probation. That’s when Saban was hired. In his second season, he led the Tide to a 12-0 regular season record, before losing to Florida in the SEC title game and Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
But now the school is on three years probation and must vacate 21 victories between 2005 and 2007. Some of those came under Saban.
That will forever be on his resume. You think that’s not on his mind? You think he needs this?