Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri all appeared at Wednesday’s SEC media day, though head coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide—as usual—stole the show.
Saban opened his press conference with his usual salute to the journalists and media members in attendance.
“I really appreciate what you do,” Saban said, per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “You promote our game.”
And then things got a bit heated.
Saban didn’t seem to appreciate SEC pundit Paul Finebaum during a testy exchange—on air and off—after Finebaum challenged Saban’s decision to internally discipline star offensive tackle Cam Robinson and defensive back Laurence Jones. The pair will likely be allowed to play in the team’s season-opening game against USC, per Alex Scarborough and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com.
In May, Robinson was charged in Monroe, Louisiana, with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and illegal possession of a stolen firearm, while Jones was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance. The district attorney abstained from prosecuting the case, however, and the charges were dropped.
Finebaum pressed Saban on his decision to not suspend them, leading to the following exchange, via the SEC Network:
The crux of Saban’s comments are below (h/t Chip Patterson of CBS Sports):
I don’t really care to answer the critics. I’m going to do what’s right for the players. If the players really did anything that wrong, they would’ve gotten charged with something… The district attorney didn’t say what all was… Like, there was four people in the car. Why did the two football players get arrested and the other guys did not get arrested? There’s no law about concealed weapons in Louisiana… so why did they search the car just because there was a gun on the seat? There are just a lot of questions there that are reasons there weren’t charges brought against these guys.
Do we condone the behavior? No, alright? But you’re innocent until proven guilty in this country regardless of whether you get convicted in the media or not, which is what you’re doing to these players. … I’m not going to convict him in the public. You [Finebaum] said I was going to get criticized by you and the public and the media because I’m not going to suspend them. And I don’t really care about that.
That’s the end of the conversation.
Saban remained incensed after the show went off the air, as AL.com captured:
According toWithin earshot of media, Saban launched into a four-letter tirade directed at Finebaum. In it, he used his fingers to note the small amount of marijuana found in the car and insinuated the arresting officers were disgruntled LSU fans. It ended with a few laughs from everyone on set as Saban exited.”
Bomani Jones of ESPN had no issue with the stance Saban took:
Jason McIntyre of the Big Lead saw things a bit differently:
While Saban and Alabama stole the show on Wednesday—after four national championships in seven years, the spotlight tends to follow you—the Crimson Tide weren’t the only school to appear in front of the cameras.
And Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema didn’t waste his opportunity to weigh in on Saban’s controversial afternoon, per Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:
It wasn’t Bielema’s only winning line on the day.
He joked about his program’s style of play and its lack of “sex appeal,” per Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports:
He also joked about his response to Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN, after Texas A&M beat Arkansas 28-21 in September in a wild finish:
While Saban was the main attraction, Bielema was the star. He also commented on the wedding of one of his former players, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: “I was in Russell’s wedding…well not in it, but in the eighth row on the aisle,” he said, per Mandel—and noted that he liked Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“I love a guy that kind of speaks his mind,” he said, per Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, before also commenting on the cancelled game between Michigan and Arkansas: “I realize Michigan and Notre Dame sounds sexy to everyone else, but I think Michigan and Arkansas sounds sexy.”
Add it all up, and Feldman believes Bielema will land on his feet whenever his coaching career ends:
It’s hard to argue with that. Bielema was wildly entertaining on Wednesday.
But he wasn’t the only one, and Kentucky and Missouri provided highlights on the afternoon as well.
Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp and offensive lineman Jon Toth in particular had meaningful quotes on the day, per Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report:
Missouri’s players and coaches, meanwhile, were left discussing the fallout of Baylor’s announcement that athletic director Mack Rhoades—the man who hired Tigers head coach Barry Odom—would be taking the athletic director position for the Bears.
Missouri named deputy athletic director Wren Baker the interim AD.
Jon Solomon of CBS Sports shared linebacker Michael Scherer’s response to the news:
“Guys are presented different opportunities and have to make best decision for what’s best for them,” Odom said of Rhoades’ departure, per McMurphy, before adding, “We had a long discussion last night. He has an opportunity that he thought was best for him.”
It was a bizarre situation for Odom to find himself in during his first SEC media day as Missouri’s head coach. Of course, it was a bizarre day in general.
But if there is one thing the SEC rarely is, it’s boring. Wednesday was just another reminder of that.
You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.
Read more SEC Football news on BleacherReport.com
Source: Bleacher Report CFB