Asked about former assistant — and current Florida offensive line coach — Tim Davis referring to him as “the devil himself,” Alabama’s Nick Saban said last night that he was disappointed in his old employee’s choice of words:
“It really is a little terribly disappointing…
I try to do right by the people that work for me. It’s a tough demanding job. And at the same time, if anybody had an issue or problem with me, I would want them to just tell me…
Twice. On two occasions. It’s just disappointing. If somebody has a problem with me, I’d appreciate it if they’d tell me. If I’m doing something to offend somebody, I’d certainly like to do whatever I have to do to fix it. It’s not our intention. It’s not what we try to do.
We’re in a tough business. It’s very competitive. Sometimes you’ve got to demand that people do things that maybe they don’t want to do, but it’s not personal…
I know it’s not representative of Will Muschamp and the University of Florida and the way they do things. I know that because I’m close enough to Will to know that.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone say something is a “little terribly” anything, but the coach’s meaning is clear. And the “twice” remark was a reference to the fact that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin called Saban “Nicky Satan” at a high school’s awards banquet back in January. Franklin later apologized and said he was joking, though Saban apparently hasn’t forgotten the matter.
Alabama’s coach has a reputation for a being both a tough boss and a cold fish. Even Muschamp’s parents have talked about how their son “got crosswise” with “that son of a bitch” while serving on Saban’s staff in the NFL.
At the same time, Kirby Smart and others have stayed in Saban’s employ and enjoyed great success as a result. If Smart is hating life on Alabama’s staff he’s doing a good job of hiding it. Jobs come open each December, yet he has stayed put in Tuscaloosa, as have many others.
Obviously, one man’s dream boss can be another man’s nightmare.
In this case, Davis should have kept his nightmare to himself. A public figure calling another public figure the devil or Satan — even if it’s in jest — is going to draw a national spotlight. That spotlight is now shining brightly on Davis, Muschamp and the Florida football program.
At some point — probably today — Davis will likely cough up the obligatory apology (which most people will immediately peg as being insincere).
And if he doesn’t apologize, the silence will be louder and more telling than even his initial “devil” comment.