There is no easier target these days. He’s the highest-paid coach in college football and his program is a mess. He can’t weed out malcontents fast enough, and he’s still trying to find scholarships for his No.1-ranked recruiting class.
These are the days when Nick Saban should be relaxing on Lake Burton in Georgia, decompressing until the grind of the season kicks in. Instead, he is dealing with this reality:
Last week’s arrest of linebacker Jimmy Johns — on five counts of selling cocaine — brings the total to 10 players arrested since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.
Every coach goes through rough patches with players off the field; Urban Meyer and Phil Fulmer dealt with it last year, and Pete Carroll and Mack Brown did in 2006. You simply can’t get away from it with 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids.
There are two ways to look at Saban’s predicament: Some players recruited by the former staff have resisted change, and/or Saban hasn’t done a good job of clearly stating boundaries.
When a coach completely has the pulse of his team, players police players. And right now, that’s not happening in Tuscaloosa — and that’s why Alabama is the ultimate loser in the winners and losers this offseason.
I have little doubt Saban will win and win big at Alabama, but it may get worse before it gets better.