Summing up the past week for Alabama as “chaotic” would be an understatement. The loss to Tennessee was one thing, but the postgame incident involving wide receiver Jermaine Burton has people asking Nick Saban about his punishment of players.
The response to the postgame incident where Burton laid hands on a female Tennessee fan would’ve led most to think that Saban would at least suspend him for a game. But as players made their way out of the tunnel Saturday night, it was clear Burton would play. The way Nick Saban handles his decision for punishment is up to him, but he should clearly expect folks to disagree.
During his postgame press conference, Saban was asked about the decision to start Burton against Mississippi State.
“I don’t know how many of you have been in a situation like that. I talked to him. He was scared, I was scared, some of our other players were scared,” Saban said. “I think you learn to respect other people because we have a responsibility to do that, regardless of the circumstance we’re in. I talked to the guy, we have him in a counseling program, it’s not an anger management program, as some people announced today. Nobody ever said that, that’s not the problem, that’s not the issue.
“It’s about having the proper respect for other people,” Saban added. “I didn’t think it was necessary to suspend the guy, so if you knew the whole story, maybe you wouldn’t either. But I am not gonna divulge that.”
If Nick Saban’s goal was to make this story go away, he didn’t do a good job of putting it to bed. What is the full story? What else do we need to know about the situation that led to Burton to put his hand on a female? We are now left with more questions than actual answers.
Understandably, Nick Saban is putting some of this on the SEC and Tennessee for not controlling the situation last Saturday. But at the same time, his players have been through these types of scenarios before, so you would think the school would be better prepared for the crowd rush.
We are not talking about a player accidentally running into a person after a game or slightly pushing away a camera. It’s obvious that Burton put his hands on the female.
According to the ESPN broadcast, Saban told the broadcast crew that Burton has been working with anger management counselors to control his emotions. Saban was quick to clarify in his postgame comments that Burton was not in anger management counseling, specifically. It doesn’t sound like this situation will extend any further beyond counseling for Burton, which Saban made clear after the game.
It’s become a normal response from the University of Alabama football program that when a player gets into some type of trouble, whether it be academics or an off the field matter, the response is the same. It’s always handled internally, which is how Nick Saban has responded since the start of his college football coaching career. Whether you like it or not, this is how business is handled at Alabama.
As we’ve seen over the past week, everyone will have an opinion on what type of punishment Jermaine Burton should’ve been handed. Based off the video that was published this past week, folks I spoke with during the week thought a one-game suspension was coming. But in the end, most of us don’t get paid over $10 million a year to make these decisions.
Whether you like it or not, Nick Saban is taking the word of his player — not the opinion of others and certainly not the visuals of a video posted on TikTok.