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Sprints Wouldn't Be Bold Enough to Challenge Nick Saban // 11.26.10

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This could or could not be a thing
A report in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, says that three former Alabama players are accusing Nick Saban of misrepresenting the reasons they left Tuscaloosa. The players say that Saban was lying when he said they violated team rules, and was doing so to save the program's reputation.

If Mr. Saban had said the players decided to transfer because they didn't believe they would have a chance to play at Alabama, the players said, it would have provided ammunition for rival coaches competing for the same recruits. But if the players were seen as disciplinary cases, they said, Mr. Saban's recruiting methods wouldn't be viewed as the problem. Mr. Saban, Mr. Preyear said, "was just making himself look good for the media, and making us look bad."

That seems like a bit of a stretch. The PR hit probably wouldn't have been much worse than what Saban took for oversigning in the first place, and the RB-a-palooza at Southern Cal a few years ago shows that a lot of recruits don't shy away from competition. Also, there's this:

Mr. Preyear transferred to Alabama State. His coach, Mr. Barlow, said he isn't playing because of low grades.

Well, that's inconvenient for his version of the story, given that Saban specifically mentioned academics in his remarks about the violation of team rules.

Which is not to completely discount the idea that this is something Saban could have done -- and that oversigning is a widespread practice that ought to be restricted or banned. I've always been a proponent of taking on tough academic cases if you think you can help the student in the classroom, but that also has to come with the realization that if it doesn't work out, that means you might not be able to find someone to take that scholarship.

The leading indicator of whether this is going to be any kind of real problem for Saban -- the reaction of the school -- seems to be in his corner so far.

A university spokeswoman said in a statement that it is "very difficult for the University of Alabama as an institution to deal with inquiries that are so blatantly pointed toward discrediting one individual, particularly when the University is prohibited from addressing specific cases due to student privacy laws. The University of Alabama has complete confidence in Coach Saban."

Of course, that's an easy thing to say when he's gone 35-4 with two division titles and a conference and national championship over the last three seasons. Then again, given that Saban's recruiting juggernaut is likely to keep going regardless of these reports, we're not likely to find out if the school would react differently if the results were less positive.

Two years as a head coach, and he's already got the non-denial denial down pat
Might Dan Mullen be interested in another job if one comes along?

I'm happy here. To be honest with you, I don't know where I would leave to go to. This is the Southeastern Conference. I don't have any experience in the NFL and I coached in the SEC, so I don't really know if there's many places for me to go to.

Which is not even the standard "I have no intention of ever leaving Mississippi State." This is one of the most interesting angles of the offseason: Where might Mullen be considered and where might he go. If he's wise, any program like Colorado and Minnesota will be quickly scratched off the list. Trying to revive programs that are that moribund is going to take years of work and maybe more than one head coach. But the right offer could be enough to make State fans nervous.

The shock value of this statement is somewhere around zero
Bradley Sowell says not to believe Houston Nutt when he downplays the importantce of the Egg Bowl.

"Coach Nutt, he really wants this one because he feels like he's had it kind of rubbed in his face or whatever," said Sowell, a junior from Hernando. "(MSU coach Dan) Mullen's done a good job of bringing back the rivalry. It's kind of a good thing in a way, because it felt like it was dying for a few years and he's really brought it back."

Dying is a common occurrence when a rivalry is overseen by Ed Orgeron and Sylvester Croom, so that's not much of a surprise. Nor is the fact that Houston Nutt really wants to win this game. Dan Mullen is becoming Starkville's answer to 1990s Spurrier in the talk department; there were plenty of people who wanted to defeat him and had nothing to show for it.

Robbie Caldwell is still unconventional
A game-time decision: The starting quarterback for the Wake Forest game.

A great story from the Alabama baseball team
David Kindred has overcome his lymphoma and hopes to play again next season.