It’s time for Nick Saban to retire. The legendary Alabama coach is tarnishing his legacy by the moment.
This may sound strong considering the Crimson Tide just beat Mississippi State handily on Saturday. However, the 30-6 final score isn’t what Bama fans should be concerned about. Saban’s decision to play receiver Jermaine Burton after video surfaced of the junior striking a female following the Tennessee game is the problem. Defending Burton after the game only compounds the issue.
The Burton incident is somewhat clouded considering the circumstances in which Burton decided it was appropriate to slug a woman. After all, the scene following the UT-Alabama game was mass chaos. Fans stormed the field in Neyland Stadium after the Vols beat the Crimson Tide 52-49 for the first time since 2006.
As celebrated as it is, fans shouldn’t be allowed to storm the field no matter the result. Still, players shouldn’t be allowed to strike a female no matter what.
Saban claimed that Burton was scared by the crowd yet video shows he still had plenty of room to manuever through fans to get to the away locker room, which was where he was likely headed. Or maybe Burton was on his way to punch some other random victim.
Saban’s insistence to play Burton on Saturday is a sign of two things. First, Saban still thinks he can tell the media what to think, write and talk about. Video would prove otherwise. This is not a grey area. This is a player punching a woman and there is video evidence of it.
Go ahead and make the argument that fans shouldn’t have been on the field. That’s true. That is where the players are paid to do their job and their job is very violent. However, I’ve been in a very similar situation and my reaction to a fallen female was to help her up, not punch her. Maybe I should have gone all “Lord of the Flies” and just trampled her. However, it seems like common sense and common decency wrapped into one by not doing so.
This one incident won’t cost Saban his job. He is so entrenched at Alabama that he could have probably punched a female fan himself and just received a strict verbal warning. Alabama showed it was completely powerless or lacked the desire to step in when Saban said it was okay to run Bama’s version of Mike Tyson out onto the field against Mississippi State on Saturday. Let’s take a closer look at that for a moment.
Did Alabama, which is down by Saban standards, really need Burton to beat the Bulldogs? Surely not. Saban could have sat Burton and avoided the criticism and fan uproar. Again, the fan in question is somewhat responsible for the reaction by Burton. However, she never punched nor seemed threatening according to the video. If she did threaten him, Saban should have said so.
As for Burton, I hope he’s receiving counseling, as Saban said he was. I’m actually quite impressed that he could overcome the emotional toll of being approached by a woman that is about half as big as him. He’s lucky his hand wasn’t battered to the point in which he couldn’t catch a pass, which he did two times for 40 yards against State. Imagine how many passes he could have caught had it not been for his sore hand. Heisman anyone?
The situation reeks of more than just a coach who has way too much power. It reeks of desperation. It reeks of a coach who isn’t real crazy about the current state of college football, which has undergone mass changes recently that have drawn the ire of Saban.
It reeks of a coach that is on his last leg and wants things to end just the way he thinks it should. Ohio State’s Woody Hayes is remembered for a punch he threw on the field almost as much as the success he had throughout his career. Saban doesn’t need that. This one punch won’t change the way Saban is remembered, but the next one might.