Alabama head coach Nick Saban said nothing all that controversial at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, and yet he still found himself in the middle of a headline.
Saban got a bit agitated on live television with radio host Paul Finebaum when Finebaum pressed him on the fact that he wasn't going to suspend star left tackle Cam Robinson for the Tide's Week 1 game against USC. Robinson, who could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and defensive back Hootie Jones were arrested in May on a felony charge of possession of a stolen gun and misdemeanor possession of marijuana when they were found sitting in a car in a Louisiana park with two other men at 1:30 a.m. All charges were dropped for a lack of evidence.
“You're innocent until proven guilty in this country, regardless of whether you get convicted in the media or not, which is what you're doing to these players,” Saban told Finebaum. “I'm not going to convict [Robinson] in public. And you said I was going to get criticized by you, and the public, and the media, because I'm not going to suspend him, and I don't really care about that. And that's the end of the conversation.”
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That would be fine if that was indeed the end of it, but before that moment there was this exchange:
Saban: “If the players really did anything that wrong, they would have gotten charged with something … There were four people in the car. Why did the two football players get arrested, and the other guys did not get arrested? There's no law about concealed weapons in Louisiana. So why did they search the car just because there was a gun on the scene?”
Finebaum: “So you think they were just persecuting the football players?”
Saban: “There are just a lot of questions there that are reasons that there weren't charges brought against these guys.”
So Saban didn't totally accuse the Louisiana police of being biased and targeting Alabama players, but there was enough insinuation there that the Louisiana police department that arrested Robinson and Jones felt the need to comment.
“I can tell you for a fact that the first officer on the scene is not an LSU fan. He hates LSU. He doesn’t like the color yellow or purple and gold. In fact, he’s a Florida fan. If you mention LSU around him, he throws up in his mouth. Most of our officers are LSU fans, but we have some who are Arkansas fans and Georgia fans and Alabama fans. And I'll tell you this, the first officer did not even know those guys were players.
“Our officer was doing his job. They were not supposed to be there. He called for backup, and the other officers arrived and made the arrest. We enforce the law based on the law.”