Saturday, February 5, 2011

The power of one word

Nick Saban is a big boy. He's a lightning rod. And he has become the front man on the issue of "oversigning" -- the practice of rejiggering his team's roster every year to sign big recruiting classes.

He's not the only coach who does this. In fact, Alabama was 10th on a recent list put together by Sports Illustrated, trailing several other SEC teams. But Saban is Saban and Alabama is Alabama, and so the coach has gotten plenty of attention for his use of the practice.

Which is all well and good, until it isn't. A case in point: Stewart Mandel's recent column written off Saban's Signing Day press conference, during which the coach defends his recruiting approach.

Mandel describes Saban's remarks as a diatribe. Really?

You decide. Follow the link. Find the two videos of the press conference and click on Part I. The 431 words to which Mandel refers come up around the 6 minute mark. Let me know when Saban raises his voice or sounds defensive or does anything more than answer the question in his typically straight-forward way.

Otherwise, you can choose to believe Mandel's description of the press conference as a Saban rant. And that's unfortunate, because it's not as if the columnist doesn't raise important points. As we have written before, the NCAA should standardize recruiting so all conferences and teams follow the same rules.

Along those lines, check out this fine column by the Birmingham News' Kevin Scarbinsky on Saban's defense being undermined by his school's refusal to turn over basic scholarship information.

But Mandel's otherwise solid piece is fatally flawed from his misuse of a single word. That word is inaccurate and unfair. And it forces the reader to view everything Saban says about a timely and important issue through a grossly distorted lense.

michael gordon


Bama Brother said...

I have to agree with your assessment of Saban's press conference and with your taking the SI guy to task for using a loaded word to describe Saban's remarks. Saban did raise his voice when he talked about grayshirting, but that part of his remarks was light years away from being a diatribe. If Saban had had headphones on, he would not have thrown them on the ground because he was not angry or hyper defensive.