Saban Owes Dolphins a Refund and an Apology

By Gregory Moore
Updated: January 6, 2007

SAN ANTONIO – Before Nick Saban picks up the phone and starts giving some starry-eyed high school kid the sales pitch of why he should come to Bama, he might want to sit down and pen an apology letter to the Miami Dolphins and their fan base. Before Saban even begins to put in a college offense/defense that was abysmal in South Florida, he needs to write Wayne Huzinga a check for $4 million with the words, “I’m sorry for stealing your money”. Saban should be doing that right now instead of complaining that the sports media is roasting him unmercifully. Let’s be real folks. Did you really think that Saban was going to be loyal to a bunch of grown men and honor a contract? You are kidding yourselves if you thought he was going to be different. Alabama faithful listen up because the truth is going to be told about your new head coach. The truth of the matter is that the only person that Nick Saban is loyal to is his wife. That’s it. He doesn’t care about you. He’s not going to care about your kids. And he sure as hell will not care about the Crimson Tide program four years from now.

Let’s just add my byline to the long list of other writers who think that Saban is the ultimate snake oil salesman in the coaching ranks. Heck at least Jim Mora (the son, not the coach) was honest enough to say what he would love to have even though it was the must idiotic thing I have ever heard a professional coach say in a long time. And that’s just it with Saban. He’s not credible. He’s about as big of a fraud as they come these days. Sports fans wail on players about their lack of loyalty and inability to honor a contract that they have signed. We sports writers demand that players show us the true meaning of character and integrity in being a professional and yet there are coaches like Saban who uses those very same words in their press conferences, in the locker rooms and then when the moment comes for them to have the ‘mental toughness’ needed to fend off probing questions, they hide behind a PR person or start making excuses. And if Saban can lie to a bunch of grown men, what makes you think he won’t lie to a bunch of kids a few years later? I’m going to say this again for those Bama fans; don’t believe the hype.

I’m not upset that Saban wanted to leave the pros for greener pastures. Hey if the Crimson Tide alum want to give him $32 million I say go for it. But there is a little thing called professionalism and the way Saban handled this situation is as unprofessional as it gets. His denials from the middle of December to him stating just a few days prior that he was going to be there for the Dolphins was nothing short pure BS. To get irate and practically throw a temper tantrum with a bunch of sports writers showed this writer that those scribes had done their homework. You see that is what many college coaches don’t understand. Sports writers are a heck of a lot smarter than we look. We’re part bloodhound, part sleuth, part alchemist and 1000% pit bullish when it comes to sniffing out a hot story that has some good ole fashion truth to it. Saban wasn’t upset with the reporters for asking questions. He knows full well that the South Florida reporters had found out about his little secret plans of bailing out on the Dolphins before he could go public.

Maybe he doesn’t get it. In the professional realm of sports, we sports hounds are great white sharks. We don’t cringe when a coach tells us to get the hell away from him. We look him straight in the eye and say, “don’t “f’ with us. Do your job and we’ll do ours”. We’ll make coaches and players look good at this level if they treat us like professionals and we’ll do the same for them. As a matter of fact we’ll go out of our way to make sure that the stories written show that everyone is making progress and that things can be fixed in our world of King Arthur’s sports kingdom. Saban should have realized that two years ago when he left LSU and wanted the challenge of being in elite company.

I wish Saban all the best in his new endeavor but I think he really should rethink how he feels in all of this. Fans don’t understand his personal problems because they took him at his word. He says that he is an honorable man who has done honorable things in 35 years of being a head coach. Well he might want to make sure that in order for him to be trusted again in the sports world, he will have to rethink how he runs his new ship. Being cantankerous, stubborn and high and mighty with the scribes down in Alabama will not endear him to anyone there. Not being honest and willing to go through at least 80% of his contract that he just signed will not bode well for him in his next job.

Whether Nick Saban wants to accept this point of contention or not isn’t my problem. It is his though. The point of contention is that he lied to a fan base, a team and an owner. He lied through his teeth and he cannot go through any process trying to defend it and think that what he did was ‘for the team’. Being a man of integrity isn’t an easy concept. Heck I’ve struggled with it and sometimes I fall abundantly short. However people will forgive you if you just admit you made a mistake. Nick Saban needs to admit that although he gave it a valiant effort in Miami, he made a mistake in taking the job. Before he goes off and makes those phone calls to those new players, he needs to really sit down and reflect on just what happened within three weeks in Miami. The Dolphins gave him a chance to be a professional coach in the NFL. There are thousands of coaches, many of them on the college levels, would love that opportunity that he was given. And instead of him manning up and saying, “Guys I’ve made a mistake two years ago that I’m not proud of”, he wants to think he’s a victim. That’s not true. He’s not the victim.

Nick Saban may be the next coming of Paul Bryant but right now he has some dirty laundry he needs to clean up. Before he asks a bunch of high school kids to follow him, he needs to get back in touch with the true definitions of integrity, character and mental toughness for himself. The Crimson Tide deserves a coach who is passionate about winning and Saban may be the very guy to do just that. But before that happens, Saban needs to publicly apologize to the Dolphin nation so that both sides can heal. And all it takes is for Nick Saban to admit that he did a city and a fan base wrong in saying that he didn’t want a job and then turn around and take it saying this is where he wanted to be. Be true to yourself first Saban and then you can be true to everyone else around you.

OAKLAND RAIDERS ARE OFFICIALLY THE KEYSTONE COPS OF THE NFL Can you feel the pain that is the coaching career of Art Shell? In 1994 he is fired for no cause whatsoever and then is asked in February of 2006 to come back to his beloved Oakland Raiders and right the ship, err well you know that other word, that Al Davis has created. So Shell goes though the process of trying to resurrect a franchise that has been dormant for quite sometime. In the process he has to deal with Randy Moss being a jerk, Joey Porter being a malcontent and an organization that would much rather fight with a NFL reporter for the league’s network rather than tell the simple truth In the end who got the short end of the stick? You guessed it Art Shell. And why did Shell get that stick? Because the Raiders is an organization that is made up of Keystone Cops.

Okay maybe I’m broad stroking the cops too much here. They aren’t that much of a bungled unit. But the Raiders are. When Adam Schaeffer announced that Shell was going to be fired during a NFL Network game and the team decided to send out a press release trying to discredit Schaeffer’s report, Shell was as good as fired then. Here’s what Mr. Davis doesn’t realize even within his own organization. Somebody is going to tell the press what is going on. I am quite sure that somebody did some pillow talk or a secretary told somebody over at the Jamba Juice near the practice facility. If he and his PR staff is thinking that isn’t plausible.

It’s also very plausible that the Raiders are not this great franchise of excellence that they dream they are. You do not do a coach and a former player the way they did Shell. If Shell is smart, you tell Al Davis to kiss your behind and don’t ever look to help that organization again. It has no sense of family and no loyalty whatsoever. Oh and by the way, will somebody be man enough to apologize to Adam Schaeffer and say that his report was correct. All he did was report the effect of a ‘cause’ that was going into motion.

VINCE OR DREW DESERVE ROY AWARD If I had a vote on who should be the Rookie of the Year, my vote would go to either Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans or to Maurice Jones Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Either player deserves and maybe the football writers will be magnanimous and split the award with the two of them.

Young deserves the award because he has single handedly salvaged a team that was going to be sub .500 this past season. With his arm, his legs and his desire to win, Young propelled the Titans into a team that showed that with some time and maturity, it could become a very formidable team.

Now Drew, or Jones Drew as he likes to be known, deserves the award because as a part time player for the Jags, he finished the season with 942 yards rushing and sixteen touchdowns either as a running back or as a kick returner.

Who doesn’t deserve the award? Every other rookie this year. There are some good ones this season but Drew and Young are the top dogs in the 2006 rookie class. Hopefully the writers will vote accordingly and the fans get to see one or both of these young men get the hardware they deserve for giving us a thrilling season.

WILLIAMS MISSED PLAYING IN THE 2004 ALAMOBOWL GAME The loss of Darrent Williams is definitely a shock but right here in my seat in San Antonio, I was trying to reflect on what he had done during the year he I saw him play in the Mastercard Alamobowl. Williams played in the 2004 Alamobowl that saw his Oklahoma State Cowboys get routed 33-7 by the Ohio State Buckeyes. When I tried to see if I could pull up some old stats and see what he did in the game that was a little difficult because as I did my research, I found out that he was suspended for that game for a team rule violation.

So San Antonio never got the chance to see Williams play. It’s something that would have been very nice to see. But that doesn’t diminish how much maturity the young man gained afterwards. Evidently the Denver Broncos thought good enough of him to draft him and he proved to be a very important player this season next to Champ Bailey.

Even though Williams never played in the bowl game, we should not forget that troubled young men could overcome their troubles and go on to be great examples of what determination and hard work will accomplish. Let’s all wish his family the best as they go through these troubling times and remember Darrent for the fighter that he showed the world that he was as he overcame things that just break so many other young men in his age group.