University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban spoke about team discipline at a highly publicized press conference earlier this week. In that press conference he talked about building better relationships in the community. When asked if he meant the police specifically he deferred to his statement about the whole community.
I learned a little about his plan first hand last night. After my exit from a charity poker tournament that I was playing in downtown I met a couple of friends at a bar there (not on the Strip) and had a beer with them. As we were sitting there talking a couple of guys came in and spoke with the bartender. After they left she offered to my friends and me that the guys were with the athletic department and were inquiring if any football players frequented there. She told them that players typically did not frequent that particular bar. They then proceeded to give her a card with a number on it and asked her to please call that number if there were ever any players in there that were acting in a manner that they shouldn’t.
That was my description of what happended. I did not hear the conversation and am paraphrasing the bartender’s description of the event. But, this evidently is a portion of Saban’s plan in action.
I think this makes good sense and if followed through by all local watering holes it might just help the situation. I would assume it means that an authority figure whom the players are familiar with would respond and handle the situation before it got worse or the authorities had to be involved.
I think it is important to note that the bartender was not instructed to not call the police if things were out of hand. There was not nor should be any attempt to circumvent the authorities. Football players are not above the law, even in a college town where football is as important as it is in Tuscaloosa. If they break the law they should be punished just like you or I would. I do not believe at all that this is an attempt to do that. I do believe that it is an attempt to stem a situation before it gets to that point and that, in my opinion, is smart. Ideally there will be no need to ever call anyone and if football players act like gentlemen then there will be no need to, but this appears to be a good backup plan.
When you observe Coach Saban’s actions without an agenda it appears that he follows up on the things he says he will do and that he is forward thinking.
Hopefully the rash of off-the-field incidences are over and fans can get back to worrying about football and not the police blotter. At any rate I believe it is good to know that something is being done and not just discussed.