University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been known for a lot of things during his career as a football coach. He’s been called a brilliant tactician, a master of the defense, and of course, disingenuous when it comes to intentions to stay with or leave a program/organization.
According to former Miami Dolphins fullback Heath Evans, we can add unsympathetic jerk to Saban’s list of monikers.
Evans, in an interview with Miami’s 790 the Ticket host Jorge Sedano on Tuesday, was asked to give an example of Saban mistaking his pro players for mere college kids and went to a story that claimed that Saban stepped over a convulsing player as he lay on the ground during training camp in 2005, Saban’s first with the Dolphins.
EVANS: Well, the first day of two-a-days. We had about a three-hour-plus practice in the morning in that south Florida sun. You guys know what it’s like down there in late July, early August. And then that night we had another practice under the lights, if I recall I think it was about from 6 to 9.
Jeno James, our best offensive lineman at the time, comes in and collapses after practice, uh, vomiting all kinds of stuff that would make a billygoat puke, eyes rolled in the back of his head. Myself, about four other lineman are trying to carry him from the locker room, to the training room.
Obviously it’s a moment of panic, everyone, you know, we don’t know if this guy’s, you know, gonna die, I mean, the whole deal. But he’s so big and sweaty and heavy that we actually have to set him down in the hallway between the locker room and the training room.
Nick Saban literally just starts walking in, steps over Jeno James convulsing, doesn’t say a word, doesn’t try to help, goes upstairs, I don’t know what he does. But then obviously they get Jeno trauma-offed to the hospital.
Saban calls a team meeting about 10:30 that night, comes down and says, ‘You know, the captain of the ship can never show fear or indecision, we’ve always gotta have an answer, and so I had to go upstairs, that’s why I walked over Geno like that, I had to collect my thoughts and decide what’s best for our team.’
If true, the story does nothing to squelch Nick Saban’s reputation around the NFL as a soulless drill sergeant with no compassion for the players that he demanded 100% from and then promptly walked out on. It also adds much weight to the theory that Saban would never give up his tyrannical control in the comforts of college football (where he’s been treated as a god from East Lansing to Baton Rouge to Tuscaloosa) to ever return to the National Football League.