Nick Saban Explains Not Suspending Jermaine Burton, While Arkansas’ Sam Pittman Says, ‘Something Would Have To Be Done’

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Nick Saban said sometimes punishment is not the best discipline.

The Alabama football coach was asked by OutKick three times on the weekly SEC teleconference Wednesday about his decision not to suspend wide receiver Jermaine Burton for the Mississippi State game last Saturday.

Burton, a junior who transferred from Georgia after last season, started against Mississippi State one week after striking a female Tennessee fan on the field following the Crimson Tide’s 52-49 loss at Tennessee.


“I think that everybody’s always looking at what you do,” Saban said when asked how much he weighs the impact on his other players when he he disciplines or doesn’t discipline a player.

“I think the difference in what a lot of people think is, is discipline necessarily punishment? And you punish your children, only if you think that’s going to change the behavior,” he said. “Otherwise, you try to have them learn lessons from things that they do. And that’s basically how we look at discipline and how we try to discipline our players.”

Nick Saban Says Jermaine Burton 'Was Scared' Prior To On-Field Altercation With Tennessee Fan
Alabama coach Nick Saban and wide receiver Jermaine Burton. (Getty Images)

Saban was then asked what kind of message he sent to his other players by not suspending Burton.

“It didn’t have any issue with our team,” he answered.

Alabama WR Jermaine Burton Is Going to Counseling

Saban said after the Mississippi State game Saturday that Burton is going to counseling in light of the incident, but that is apparently it as far as discipline, unless Saban is deciding not to publicize other measure he is taking. That has been an approach of his in the past.

“I think that (counseling) is what we’re basically trying to do and see if that is helpful to him,” Saban said.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was asked Wednesday what he would do if one of his players struck a fan after a game on the field. (Getty Images)

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was asked if he would consider a suspension if one of his players did something similar to what Burton did.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Pittman said. “Those will be things that you’d have to probably check the history of the player and those things of that nature.”

Burton was not a discipline issue in his two seasons at Georgia in 2020 and ’21 and has not caused problems at Alabama this season until the Tennessee game. But Pittman sounded like he would likely take more action than counseling alone.

“Obviously, there would have to be something done there,” he said. “But it’d be hard to say just right off the bat. But certainly wouldn’t condone it, nor want that to happen. Certainly, something would have to be done.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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