Bama’s Nate Oats Finally Got Something Right – Admits Brandon Miller Frisk Intro Was Stupid

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats finally swished one Saturday after missing the mark badly several times over the past week at press conferences concerning non-suspended superstar Brandon Miller.

But this time, Oats thought the same thing you and I did about what happened with Miller before Alabama’s 86-83 win over Arkansas on Saturday.

Oats thought it was stupid when an Alabama player jokingly frisked and patted down Miller, as a policeman would, during pregame introductions. Alabama’s pregame festivities have included that with Miller all season at home games because he is such a great SHOOTER. Get it? Other players have their own introduction act.

But someone forgot to send a memo to maybe slightly alter Miller’s pregame introduction ritual for Saturday. Make that everyone who works in the Alabama athletic department and basketball program forgot to send out that memo.

You know, because Miller brought the gun used by another man to allegedly murder Jamea Jonae Harris on Jan. 15 just off the Alabama campus, a preliminary hearing revealed last Tuesday. And there Miller is, not only still playing without a suspension, but also playfully getting frisked before No. 2 Alabama’s first home game since that revelation on national ESPN2 television!

Oh, and as of Sunday morning, no one at Alabama had advised Miller to change his twitter picture. The picture has him being frisked before a game. Hello, Alabama, are you there?

Does Alabama know anything about public relations? Does it have media consultants at all? How about some common sense?

Apparently, not lately, you know post-football season.

Only at Alabama. I’ve said that a few times over the past week. But it fits again.

Oats didn’t see Miller’s frisky introduction live. Coaches usually do not watch pregame introductions. They’re making last-minute preparations for the game. But he heard about it, because someone at Alabama finally did his or her job and briefed him before his press conference.

Same Brandon Miller Intro Will Not Happen Again

Too bad, no one briefed Oats on the preliminary hearing last Tuesday before his regular press conference on that day. He has been apologizing for his insensitive “wrong place, wrong time” comments that day concerning Miller on Jan. 15 ever since. Oats did so again on Saturday. His boss, athletic director Greg Byrne, also criticized him for that on an ESPN podcast Wednesday. Byrne, however, and his department could use some media coaching of its own.


Alabama basketball player Brandon Miller led the Tide with 24 points in an 86-83 win over Arkansas on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)

“It was brought to my attention after the game about our pregame introductions,” Oats said to open his press conference, bringing up the ridiculous Miller frisking before he could be asked. That’s how you’re supposed to handle the media, folks. That’s called getting out in front of a controversial situation.

Bama Should Have Gotten Out Ahead Of Brandon Miller Story

That’s what Alabama should have done when it first learned Miller was involved in the shooting – regardless of the extent of his involvement. Bring it up first, suspend him for a game or two for putting himself in a dangerous situation and adding to it. And the story would have dissipated by now. Instead, the Brandon Miller murder weapon delivery will follow Alabama all the way to the Final Four.

“That’s something that’s been going on all year. I don’t really know. I don’t really watch our introductions,” Oats continued Saturday. “I’m not involved with them. I’m drawing up plays during that time.”

Excuse over, Oats then got to the nitty gritty.

“Regardless, it’s not appropriate,” he said. “It’s been addressed. And I can assure you, it definitely will not happen again for the remainder of this year.”

Alabama Still Needs To Work On Its Media Relations

Alabama’s poor media relations of late though did not fully improve on Saturday. Players were not allowed to be interviewed after the game. This likely came from Byrne. I can understand not letting Miller be interviewed. But not letting the other players talk about another great win for the Tide (25-4, 15-1 SEC for first) takes away from that win and this great team.

Alabama clinched its second SEC regular season title in three years under Oats. Texas A&M (21-8, 13-3) can still tie for the crown. This is not a one-man Alabama team led by Miller, though he did lead the Tide in scoring with 24 on this day. And Miller’s 65 points over his last two games are the most the lottery pick freshman has had in two games this season.

But there are other great players on one of Alabama’s greatest teams ever who should be celebrated – not hidden away.

Players can be instructed not to answer certain questions about Miller, and reporters will move on. Or the players can answer such questions, and the story eventually will dissipate. It will not go away until Alabama learns to handle it better and take it like a man. Don’t hide behind the cop out of – “No interviews.”

Alabama’s Other Players Should Have Been Available

The cowardly, “Only questions about the game” strategy was also used by Alabama Saturday. But someone asked Oats if he had reached out to the murder victim’s family anyway, because that reporter works for his media outlet – not Alabama or some other control-addicted school. People forget that. He was doing his job.

After the basketball sports information director, following orders, repeated, “Only game questions, guys, sorry,” Oats waved him off. Thanks Nate. And then he answered the question like a man.

“Just to address it a little bit,” Oats said. “I apologize for my previous comments this week. We understand the severity of it all. I’m following the administration’s lead on everything here.”

And that administration needs to better follow the lead of better media consultants from now on. Or listen to them.

And that wraps up a hard week at Alabama. It’s not over, but there will be a pause for now before the grand jury and the trial.

Until then, this is a great Tide team that will likely become Alabama’s first one to play in a Final Four next April. There will be a lot of media in Houston for that tournament.

Between now and then, Alabama needs to get its circus media act together.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau


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    • Yes, it is. From a fans perspective, winning means a chance to say I was there rooting for that team, and even stormed the court a time or two, from a programs perspective, it is more important than anything else because winning is rewarded in $$.

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