I'm not sure if him flying off the handle at a stupid question if actually bullying. That word seems to be thrown around an awful lot these days to the point that anyone who points out stupidity in others is called a bully. If all reporters in Alabama know that Coach Saban doesn't appreciate the odd question or two, then why ask it?!? Get to the point and ask the important questions. I mean, if you as a reporter knows he'll take exception to your question, and you ask it anyway, aren't you the instigator of bullying?
Nick Saban isn’t the world’s best soundbite when it comes to press conferences and media sessions. In fact, he can be so prickly that reporters have to worry about setting him off. He’s prone to blow a gasket over small or downright odd issues.
Yesterday’s meeting with the media provided a perfect example.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. A reporter said he had two questions for Saban regarding that cover. The first, “How does AJ look as a cover boy?” led Saban to interrupt… and make an ass of himself:
“Well, first of all, obviously, do you think I sit around all day looking at magazines or what? I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I mean, you ask a question every week that I don’t know anything about. You need to come here and walk around and follow me around for like a week. I haven’t seen a newspaper today. I don’t know what’s happening in the world. I watch The Weather Channel, alright, for 10 minutes in the morning while I have a cup of coffee so I know what the weather’s gonna be so we can practice inside or outside. Alright, other than that… so I really can’t answer your question ’cause I have no knowledge of any of it. I’m happy for AJ and I’m sure he looks great, but…”
Saban then belittled the reporter further by making fun of another question he’d asked, “like that’s all I’ve got to worry about.”
(Quick sidenote: Alabama fans can stop reading now. Saban could slap a priest and Bama fans would say the priest was asking for it. So Tide fans are not going to like the rest of this. Best depart this post now.)
Saban is the best coach of our age and perhaps any other age as well. He’s unmatched. He’s driven. He’s a perfectionist. But he can also be a bully.
A reporter asked him a question about his star player being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was a silly little throw-away question, yes. But coaches get those kind of questions all the time. Most would know when their quarterback is on the cover of Sports Illustrated (and you can bet a man as controlling as Saban knew it about McCarron as well.) Some coaches would have played along with such a question. How do you think Mark Richt or Steve Spurrier would have answered, for example? Some — who didn’t appreciate the question — would have still said, “I haven’t seen it yet.” Only Saban would go out of his way to mock the guy asking the question.
That’s bullying. He does it because as coach — even as a 60-something, 5-9 coach — no reporter is supposed to talk about. The guys with the mics have to just eat it lest Saban and Alabama punish them or their paper or their station or their website by cutting access. Personally, I think reporters should treat coaches as they themselves are treated. If a coach is a jackass, a reporter isn’t legally bound to take it. The coach is just a guy. He just happens to have a million-dollar profession. The reporter should’ve said, “There’s no need for you to be a jerk about it.”
If Saban were Joe Blow and he talked that way to someone on the street he’d likely eat a fist. Because he’s on a riser behind a podium, well, that makes him special. “You can’t be ugly back! He’s the coach!” Please.
As for Saban’s, “You should follow me around for a week” remark, the guy asking the question should have interrupted the coach and asked what time he should arrive each day. Hey, the coach offered. Take him up on it in front of everyone.
With so much media out there, guys are scraping for different angles and soundbites. The McCarron question was completely harmless. Silly, but harmless. Saban could have brushed it off and moved on. Instead, he chose to mock the guy’s question. The reporter certainly showed more class in not telling Saban to sit and spin than Saban did with rambling, dismissive response.
Terrific coach. But a jerk when he wants to be.