More Media Blunders: Saban victim of hoax


UPDATE: Daily World pulls hoax column.  STATEMENT PLANNED BY NEWSPAPER. MORE: story writer Tom Dodge’s father is Auburn grad, according to report on Finebaum radio show. MORE: Newspaper issues apology.

The Opelousas, (Louisiana) Daily World sports editor wrote a column accusing Nick Saban of badmouthing other SEC schools. The only problem, the column was based upon an Internet hoax.

The sports editor wrote a column accusing Nick Saban of badmouthing other SEC schools. The only problem, the column was based upon an Internet hoax.Here are some of the offending errors in the column:

  • “According to a story in the Birminham News, Saban chatted with Paul Finebaum and joked that Mississippi State was “still funding scholarships by collecting pop bottles and aluminum cans along the highways.”
  • Saban took all the credit for the resurgence of the (LSU) Tiger football program.

Saban never made those remarks in his appearance on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. In addition, the Birmingham News never wrote a story about it; it was in fact, an Internet hoax. Here’s a sample of the Internet hoax:

By Steve Reeves
Assistant City Editor, Birmingham News
January 19, 2007 3:30AM
TUSCALOOSA | Alabama head football coach Nick Saban continues his whirl-wind courtship with the Crimson Tide faithful in person and on the air waves.State-wide stable, Paul Finebaum ended his 13-year affiliation with WERC-AM this week with a three-hour call in show with Saban. Finebaum has agreed to a three-year contract with Citadel Broadcasting, which owns WJOX.Finebaum’s last show on WERC, Saban presented a confident, personable style, punctuated with good-natured barbs at Auburn, Mississippi State, and saving his strongest lines for his former employer, LSU.Finebaum’s show airs from 2-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and is also carried on about 20 other stations, mostly in Alabama, under the banner of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network.Finebaum’s show was previously heard in Tuscaloosa on WTBC 1230AM, where it will still be aired. Officials with WTBC did not return a phone call Friday.“I’m sure the SEC hasn’t changed much over the past two seasons. I mean Mississippi State is still funding scholarships by collecting pop bottles and aluminum cans along the highways,” said Saban, half jokingly Friday afternoon. “Auburn, our motto –‘Where most coaches are fired’ — is still in effect.”“LSU was nothing before I arrived. Academically, athletically, physical plant, nothing. I made LSU. I was LSU. Their current success is solely due to my recruits. Coach Miles, while a fine man, does not fill my shoes, fit my desk, or cast a taller shadow. Our coaching staff is superior to anything in Baton Rouge. We will go into Louisiana an take each and every player we want. LSU will not, nor can not stop me. Mark my words.”Finebaum point blank asked Saban if those comments mean LSU is a bigger foe than Auburn, a team that has dominated the Crimson Tide in recent years.“No. Auburn is in-state. They are consistently the best team in the West,which speaks to the talent in Alabama. As talent I recruited graduates from LSU, after this season, they will  return to the loweer depths of this league.”When pressed about his initial comments about LSU “being special”, Saban rejoined, “It was special. I won a title there. But LSU fans focus is on the pre-game party aspect. Winning the party is paramount there. Seven-win football and winning baseball will keep them happy.”Currently there is a controversy regarding Saban’s comments about the staff at LSU to previously committed Tiger recruits. In visiting Curtis star Joe McKnight, Nick Saban has created a stir while visiting LSU commitments Phelon Jones, a cornerback from McGill-Toolen High in Mobile, Ala., and Luther Davis, a defensive end from West Monroe.     


According to both prospects, Saban took credit for LSU’s recent success as he signed most of the players involved in the Tigers’ 22-4 run since he left.

Neither player agreed to take a visit to Alabama, though, and refused to de-commit from LSU.

“Great guy, but he is a little bit overconfident,” Jones’ father Tony is quoted as saying at

Saban also got a no from Davis in West Monroe.

“He (Saban) was kind of mad that we turned down the visit and turned down the scholarship,” Davis told “He said that there is no way that the coaching staff at LSU can compare to the coaching staff we have at Alabama right now. He gave no credit to anyone.”

“I don’t think the LSU coaches are upset with Saban,” according to Mike Scarborough of “It probably just makes them very motivated to out-recruit him. I think they also think it’s unbelievable some of the things he is saying about LSU.”

Associated Press reports were used in this report.
A careful search of the Birmingham News archives would show that no such article was ever written about Saban on Finebaum. You could look at the Finebaum website and not find an audio clip of the Saban interview. And if you bothered to look at the byline, you would see something odd. First, the Birmingham News writer isn’t correct, and a quick look at the Birmingham News site doesn’t show a “city editor” position. Futhermore, there isn’t even a Steve Reeves on the list of Birmingham News writers.   You would think a “journalist” would research something before writing it as fact. Unfortunately, the writer was either lazy or intentionally reckless in writing a column without checking his facts.I guess Tom Dodge of the Daily World, never lets facts get in the way of a good story. I’ll email Dodge and the newspaper to see if he’ll answer a few questions about this column.