A few weeks ago, Florida assistant coach Tim Davis — who worked for Nick Saban at Alabama and with the Miami Dolphins — compared his current boss — Will Muschamp — to his former boss. Specifically, he referred to Saban as “the devil himself.”
Days later a Florida-based writer or two came out and said that Davis had been joking to a booster group when he made his “devil” comment. But his follow-up — which hasn’t gotten nearly as much pub — sure didn’t sound like a joke: “Will’s like the other guy, only he’s got a personality. He’ll smile at you. He’ll talk to you. You understand?”
Yeah, joking. Ha-ha.
ESPN’s Mark May and former NFL GM Scott Pioli both rushed to Saban’s defense. Saban said he found the comment to be “terribly disappointing,” also referencing a “Nicky Satan” comment made by Vanderbilt’s James Franklin months earlier. (Franklin later apologized.)
“I’m disappointed because when guys work for you you have feelings for them and you’re hopeful that they don’t feel that way, but if somebody did fell that way, I just wish they would tell me because I’m not trying to make anybody feel bad.
When you’re in a position of leadership, sometimes you have to make people do thing they don’t want to do for the betterment of the program and to get them to do their job the way they need to. I’m not directing that to anybody in particular, but somebody may not like that…
If we’re in a position of leadership, we should set an example that somebody should want to emulate… So why do we need to say things like that that’s detrimental to somebody else if you’re in a position of leadership? Because you don’t need to do that. You don’t need to tear down somebody else to make yourself look better, or whatever. You need to be focused on what you need to do in your program so that you can be the best that you can be. And that doesn’t have anything to do with what anybody else is doing.”
Saban said that Muschamp and Florida AD Jeremy Foley had called to apologize. “Which I appreciated. I said right off the bat that this is not a reflection of the University of Florida, Will Muschamp or the program. That’s really as much that needs to be said about it, OK?”
Saban did not say whether or not Davis has reached out to apologize. But if he had, it’s likely Saban would have said so.
Bottom line: Joking or not, it’s probably best for coaches not to take personal shots at one another at a press conference, at a booster function, within the range of a cell phone camera, alone in their home…