Alabama Football Woes: Nick Saban Brings Miami Mentality to Tuscaloosa
Remember when "The U" was especially noted for having an abnormal amount of so-called "thugs" on their football team?
Those days aren't too far out of recent memory, but long enough ago that the Canes have forgotten most of their troubles.
Maybe they don't remember them because Nick Saban, former coach of the Dolphins, brought the mystique of players being arrested in Miami to the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide has become the Cincinnati Bengals of the NCAA as of late.
With eight players arrested since Saban's arrival in T-town, the Tide need to worry about what the kids are doing off the gridiron, as opposed to how they perform on it.
One of the first arrests was made just before last season. Simeon Castille, decorated defensive back, senior, and team captain, was arrested for disorderly conduct. The latest is a player of the same background: decorated defensive back, senior and team captain Rashaad Johnson.
Johnson was arrested at the same club three other Crimson Tide players have had run-ins with the law. At this point, Coach Saban should really think about a ban on that club.
Nonetheless, bar-ban or not, Nick Saban has some issues to deal with at the Capstone. With Jeremy Elder being the first of Saban's recruits arrested, who will follow?
Johnson will not be suspended for the incident, a class C misdemeanor. The other three players arrested for the same crime did not receive suspensions either. What does that say about Saban and his discipline? Noting the fact that 30 games were sat out last season by other Tide players, the stars with small crimes did not suffer any consequences.
Does that mean not every crime deserves to be punished?
Elder was arrested on charges of armed robbery. He was dismissed from the football team for one season. It is unknown at this time whether Elder will be allowed to return to school.
Elder has never had a problem with law enforcement in the past, according to Saban and Elder's high school principal. So, why now? Freedom? College life on scholarship doesn't yield much money. Maybe he needed to buy some toiletries? Whatever the case, Jeremy Elder won't wear a Crimson Tide jersey in '08 and possibly not ever again.
But the problem doesn't lie in the life of college students. It doesn't lie in the bias of Tuscaloosa PD. It lies in the way coaches all across the country handle discipline. Saban is among numerous college coaches that look away when small crimes are committed and pretend to discipline in private. Remember that All-SEC receiver DJ Hall missed an entire half last year for disciplinary reasons—yeah, right.
It's time for college coaches everywhere to stop babying these athletes and make them take responsibility for their actions. If players are proven guilty in a court of law, consequences must be handed down from coaches. No more running stadium steps or extra sit ups. Make it count. Take away what they love—playing the game.
If that does not get the attention of players, nothing will.
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