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Saban Fails to Evaporate Players With Stare; Shocking Film at Eleven

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Won't stay on this long, but since I called out Mike Freeman Tuesday for his heavy-handed "tough on crime" stance against Phil Fulmer, I should probably make some kind of note re: Kevin Scarbinsky's most recent effort in the Birmingham News. Except, in Scarbinsky's case, I can't tell if he really means it when he calls Nick Saban "the ACLU coach of the year" when it comes to player arrests (recently, there's Jeremy Elder getting nabbed for armed robbery and a much less serious disorderly conduct charge against captain Rashad Johnson), or if it's some kind of satire, or what:


Yeah, not as closely as all that, though.
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I do know one thing about Saban's personal politics.

The new sheriff in T-town is soft on crime.

On that subject, he's a veritable liberal.

It's time his supporters faced the music and buried the myth of Saban as The Terminator, as an absolute dictator, as the stern father figure who, ooh, just wait till your father gets home, young man.

Consider some of his comments at Tuesday's press conference, when he said in his opening remarks that he wouldn't talk about discipline, but then did in response to questions, and at some length, with no shortage of bluster.

Saban actually believes people who get arrested are innocent until proven guilty, at least if those people happen to be Alabama football players.

He believes Alabama football players who get arrested shouldn't necessarily be suspended, or banished, or dismembered.

He believes his job as the Alabama football coach, should one or eight of his players run afoul of the law, is to help them change their ways. He wants to rehabilitate them, not lock them up and throw away the key.
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Sounds like a sensible, humane policy to me. In Alabama, though, especially among the appropriately red-swatched Crimson Tide set, there are few worse insults than "liberal," and nobody will relish that line more than Barners doing their stupid Parrrrrrooooooole Tiiiiiiide routine.

But in Scarbinsky's case, he makes no value judgments. Just an observation: in spite of his reputation, Nick Saban is not a Terminator who takes no prisoners. If Bama partisans want a face-stomping monolith who will icily excise every potential misdemeanor impulse from his players out of sheer fear, they - like every other team - will have to lower their rigid expectations to reality. In its complete absence of finger-wagging alone, Scarbinsky's column is a beacon of the form compared to the utopian do-gooding of Freeman and John Adams and the like.

Journalism that helps readers better understand its subject with nary a soapbox? In football? In a newspaper? What a concept.