UPDATE: Check out Eight In the Box for his thoughts on Le Batard on WJOX. I enjoyed the comparison of Le Batard to Ahab!
WJOX’s mid-day program the Roundtable discussed Dan Le Batard. The crux of the interview was the Miami columnist’s opinion that Saban was a jerk to people.
Unfortunately after Le Batard left, the roundtable crew turned the discussion into a survey over whether it matters to fans if someone is a jerk but wins football games.
Of course it doesn’t matter to most fans. But I think the question is much deeper than the talk show hosts really examined.
It isn’t wrong or immoral for someone to be an introvert (like one of the hosts wisely described Nick Saban). But it would be wrong if Saban is a liar. The real smear from Le Batard and Miami media isn’t about Saban’s lack of inter-personal skills, rather it is slandering Saban’s integrity.
Ask Alabama fans if integrity is important, then most fans if they were honest would say following the Mike Dubose era an emphatic YES. Integrity is critical.
But being someone who isn’t warm to everyone isn’t a crime; it isn’t a sin. It doesn’t show a lack of integrity to be a dictator. In fact, telling people what to do and how to do it is the mark of any good leader. Saban may not like dealing with people. Maybe he is shy. Maybe he is overbearing with demands. Maybe he requires his secretary to bring his coffee with three packs of sugar and not four. Big deal.
Being autocratic in a work environment isn’t wrongâ€”but Le Batard and other journalists know there is such a negative connotation with words like dictator that they can impune Saban’s character by simply attaching the term. And that’s the real issue here. Once again we see the sports media is less about fact, and more about bluster.
As a note, I think being a jerk isn’t a big deal. I think you can still be difficult and have integrity. Integrity is the big thing. Le Batard provided one example of why Saban was a “liar,” but I wonder how much of that was truth and how much was innuendo.