It's worth noting before we get into the latest rather bizarre bit of gossip surrounding Nick Saban that the New England Patriots beat Mike Pettine regularly and badly when he was the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets. The Jets won three of their nine games against the Patriots during Pettine's four seasons there. Those were also the only three times that Pettine's defenses held the Patriots to fewer than 29 points (though New England did once need overtime to get to 29). The Patriots averaged 36.8 points in their six wins against Pettine's defenses.
Now, with that laid out, we give the floor to Mike Pettine during his interview with Greg Bedard for MMQB.
Pettine told a story of how, at Wes Welker’s wedding, Tom Brady bragged a little bit to Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith, who was Welker’s college roommate, that the Patriots may or may not have had possession of a couple Jets defensive playbooks.
"It didn’t shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway," Pettine says. "He gave one out to [Alabama coach Nick] Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill [Belichick] are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.’"
You will note that while the implication that Saban gave the playbook to Belichick is certainly there, Pettine did not actually accuse Saban of giving the playbook to Belichick. Which is precisely why reports soon surfaced about whether NICK SABAN GAVE A PLAYBOOK TO THAT CHEATING CROOK BILL BELICHICK OH THE HUMANITY.
It didn't really help matters that Belichick and Rex Ryan, the New York Jets coach, pretty much walked the non-denial denial line with great precision. But for his part, Saban (through a spokesman) says there's no truth to the idea that he did the thing that someone kinda sorta accused him of doing.
"The playbook Rex Ryan gave coach Saban is in his office," an Alabama spokesman told Fox 6 in Birmingham, Ala. "Coach Saban didn't send the playbook to anyone and wouldn't do so under any circumstances."
The first game of the 2014 college football season is 70 days away.