A call to the switchboard of the Daily World confirmed that Tom Dodge was no longer with the Daily World.Â Â No official word from the Opelousas Daily World online in Wednesday’s edition; however,Â Dodge’s name was no longer on theÂ website’s staff directory.Â Paul Finebaum read an email from DodgeÂ Tuesday afternoonÂ on his radio program. In the email Dodge confirmed he was let go after 11-years with theÂ Gannett and 7-years as sports editor.
Dodge, the former sports editor for the Opelousas Daily World,Â cited a fake Birmingham News story in a strongly worded editorial attack on Nick Saban. The column appeared in the Monday morning edition of the Daily World. It included false comments attributed to Saban including:
According to a story in the Birminham News, Saban chatted with Paul Finebaum and joked that Mississippi State was â€œstill funding scholarships by collecting pop bottles and aluminum cans along the highways.
Saban took aim at Auburn by saying: â€œAuburn, our motto – â€˜Where most coaches are firedâ€™ is still in effect.â€
Saban must have forgotten the Crimson Tide fired Mike Shula, Mike Price and Mike Dubose and had Dennis Franchione bolt for Texas A &M – all in the time frame that Tommy Tuberville has been at Auburn.
But the biggest slap was in the face of his former LSU team.
Saban took all the credit for the resurgence of the Tiger football program.
â€œLSU was nothing before I arrived. Academically, athletically physical plant, nothing,â€ Saban said on the radio show.
Unfortunately for Dodge, no such Birmingham News story existed. In fact, his columnÂ quoted an Internet hoax email:Â
By Steve Reeves
Assistant City Editor, Birmingham News
January 19, 2007 3:30AMTUSCALOOSA | 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.Finebaumâ€™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.
Finebaumâ€™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.Finebaumâ€™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.
â€œIâ€™m sure the SEC hasnâ€™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,â€ said Saban, half jokingly Friday afternoon. â€œAuburn, our motto â€“â€™Where most coaches are firedâ€™ â€” is still in effect.â€â€œLSU 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.â€
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.â€œNo. 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 willÂ return to the loweer depths of this league.â€When pressed about his initial comments about LSU â€œbeing specialâ€, Saban rejoined, â€œIt 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.â€Currently there is a controversy regarding Sabanâ€™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.Â Â Â Â Â
According to both prospects, Saban took credit for LSUâ€™s recent success as he signed most of the players involved in the Tigersâ€™ 22-4 run since he left.
Neither player agreed to take a visit to Alabama, though, and refused to de-commit from LSU.
â€œGreat guy, but he is a little bit overconfident,â€ Jonesâ€™ father Tony is quoted as saying at Tigerbait.com.
Saban also got a no from Davis in West Monroe.
â€œHe (Saban) was kind of mad that we turned down the visit and turned down the scholarship,â€ Davis told Tigerbait.com. â€œHe 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.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think the LSU coaches are upset with Saban,â€ according to Mike Scarborough of Tigerbait.com. â€œIt probably just makes them very motivated to out-recruit him. I think they also think itâ€™s unbelievable some of the things he is saying about LSU.â€Associated Press reports were used in this report.
A quick look at the Birmingham News website shows no Steve Reeves employed there. There is no such story in the News archive. Furthermore, Saban was never interviewed on the Finebaum show as described in the hoax story. Saban was interviewed by Finebaum, but two weeks prior to when the hoax email said, and Saban never said on the radio program any of the things attributed to him.
The column was pulled Monday afternoon by the Daily World. And the newspaper placed an apology on its website:
A sports column on Alabama head football coach Nick Saban in Mondayâ€™s edition of the Daily World was innaccurate.
We apologize for its inclusion in the newspaper.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the newspaper had not updated its website on the status of the sports editor or made an official statement on the situation. The only confirmation that Dodge was no longer working at the Daily World was word from the switchboard early Tuesday afternoon.