Report: Saban did not violate recruiting rule

Irresponsible. That is the only way you could describe Commercial Appeal columnist Ron Higgins accusation against Nick Saban; Higgins alleged Saban broke recruiting rules by talking with a junior.

Sunday afternoon the recruit’s coach rejected the allegations contained in Higgins’ column. The coach said the recruit and Saban exchanged nothing more than cursory greetings. The coach told the Press-Register, Saban “did it the right way.” (H/T: Eight In The Box).

According to the Bama Beat, “Malone didn’t commit or receive a scholarship offer during the face-to-face encounter, sources said. He called Saban the day after this year’s Signing Day to commit, and the coach and prospect had a longer conversation at that time. Such contact is permitted.”

Higgins column does not mention any effort to check with Malone, Malone’s coach or Alabama about the allegations. The only mention from Higgins about any checking into the allegation before printing it was a call to the SEC office. What did the SEC do? It declined comment. Thanks to the Press-Register, we now know the other side of the story. Was the allegation the work of Higgins’ own imagination or was it a planted item? It would be nice to know.

Higgins is a respected football writer, and was 2008 president of the Football Writer’s Association of America. He should set a higher standard than printing scurrilous attacks on Nick Saban. It might make Tennessee boosters in Memphis feel better about the incompetent coach Lane Kiffin, but it doesn’t foster trust in the media when a newspaper makes an allegation without checking with those involved in the allegation. Isn’t that taught in Journalism 101?


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  1. 2

    Here’s something you can sink your tooth into. Seems like the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the local bird cage liner or fish wrapper, whichever you prefer, is running the following story:

    “Fancy seeing you here
    Just wondering when an SEC football coach is going to turn in Alabama coach Nick Saban on an apparent recruiting violation. Saban obtained a commitment from Mitchell receiver Keiwone Malone, a high school junior. The only problem is that other than a “bump” — which is an accidental “hello, how are ya?”– a coach can’t have direct contact with a junior at the time that Saban did (before signing day for seniors on Feb. 4). That’s a dead period (no contact) according to NCAA rules. Judging from the quotes given by Malone to the CA’s Jason Smith, there was a face-to-face meeting and a selling job by Saban. Mitchell High didn’t have any seniors that were being recruited by Saban, so his visit wasn’t for that purpose. And it had to be more than a bump. When’s the last time you heard a kid receive a scholarship offer and commit on a bump? The SEC office had no comment on the matter, other than to explain the bump rule. This wasn’t a bump by the Sabanator. This was full-contact recruiting.”

    Since this paper, I won’t dignify it by calling it a newspaper, “broke” the story, its possible that Kiffin’s troubles have led to the timely release of this article. The shifting spotlight of blame is coming from the self proclaimed shining beacon on a hill that is Knoxville.

    How can one say this? Considering that the Commercial Appeal is the mouthpiece tool of Tennessee and the same rag that broke the Albert Means story that put Alabama on the probation road to perdition, it is not a stretch by any means, pun intended. Too bad UThug got rid of the NCAA’s best, secret witness and doubly too bad the SEC Commissioner isn’t Roy, I’m a Tennessee tool, Kramer or Alabama wouldn’t have a chance.

    Despite this, Alabama still could be staring down the barrel of the NCAA gun again and looking to use Bryant-Denny as the Fall home of Barnum and Bailey’s. Why? They ain’t SoCal and no one on the recent list of recruits needed a house.

  2. 3

    Cappy, I agree that Higgins might could have talked to the kid, but Higgins was using (as you well know) a quote from Malone himself taken by a fellow reporter from his own paper which sounds pretty damning. Here is the direct quote from Malone (the kid Saban was recruting):

    “I thought he was going to be a little taller. When he stepped out of the truck, he was so short to me, I just started laughing,” said Malone, a 6-1, 165-pound junior standout who committed to Alabama on Thursday night.

    “I just started laughing, because when I watch him on TV, he always looks kind of big. I had on my Dolphins hat, and he liked my favorite team, so we kind of bonded a little bit. And when he started talking to me, I started liking the stuff that he was saying.”

    This doesn’t sound like a “day after” phone call from the kid made to Saban. Maybe it was, but it sure doesn’t sound like it in that quote. It sounds like the kid actually saw Saban getting out of his truck (which you can’t do over the phone) and that Saban started having a pretty in depth conversation with the kid right then and there. I don’t think you’re gonna get a committment out of a kid on a simple “bump”. As to the kid’s coach, he can only talk about what he actually saw. I don’t see the kid saying his coach was anywhere around at that point. This might all be completely innocent, but if that kid would have said the exact same thing and substituted the word “Saban” with “Kiffin” or “Chizik”, you would be screaming for an NCAA investigation. I also doubt you’d be too worried about re-interviewing the kid for clarification purposes.

  3. 4

    I don’t disagree that Higgins made a reasonable assumption; however, being a writer for a major newspaper in the South and being in the middle of the SEC slave trade center of Memphis, Higgins has a higher responsibility than what message boards and blogs might do.

    If you are going to accuse someone of breaking a rule in a newspaper column, you might want to cover all the bases first. Newspapers have ethical standards…right?

  4. 5

    Julio, if you wish and pray just a little bit harder maybe all this will amount to Alabama being in trouble. You would really love that I am sure. Nothing will come of this, so you just keep looking for something damning. You can see your frustration and hatred through your ‘concerned’ citizen routine. I will bet you also have a full blown conspiracy theory about the REC too. You should let us know about that one sometime.

  5. 6
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    Cap …….I see your sarcasm about papers…..and agree completely. This is much ado about nothing. If it were an infraction Im sure it would be secondary. Every year schools self report secondary violations. Bama AND Auburn both did last year.. It no big deal people. Its not like he bought him a car……………..Oh yeah. Did any of you guys here about Kirkpatricks new Charger ? Its slap pimped out with 22s from what I hear. Kelly also got a new car.

  6. 8
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    I dont know…..I do know that Carnell had an Escalade. Im not saying its the coach buying these cars. Its obviously not. Its funneled through boosters. If Benton has an Escalade, how did you learn of it ? Internet chatter ? One of my better friends whom I trust very much saw this car. No tag on it yeat. The day after he signed. He was getting gas. Oh yeah. they live in the projects.

  7. 9

    Ballplay, I agree with you about the seriousness level of what happened. Worst case scenario, it’s Saban violating the “bump” rule for the umpteenth time since he’s been there.

    Brando, if I wanted to start some talk about a “conspiracy”, it wouldn’t be about stupid stuff like the bump rule. It would be about asking how Alabama was able to beat out Fla for the highest rated running back in the state of Florida, when considering these factors:
    1. The kid attends Emmit Smith’s alma mater, who is the greatest rb in Fla history and has god-like status at that high school. Take a wild guess who the kid’s hero is.
    2. Fla, his own home state school, has won 2 out of the last 3 NC’s, and is the most high profile school in the country right now.
    3. He’ll be competing for carries against Ingram and Upchurch next year.
    4. He would be playing in the same backfield at Fla for the greatest qb to ever play college football.

    So, I guess he would rather go to Bama and battle Ingram and Upchurch for six carries a game instead of going to Fla and have his highlights replayed on ESPN every other night. (Then again, maybe not. ESPN doesn’t really like to give Tebow and the Gators too much airtime.) Yes, it’s all because Saban is such a “hard worker” instead of that lazy a$$ Urban Meyer.

  8. 10

    Hey Julio, too bad for you that Auburn can’t get in on some of these recruits. I guess Saban was worth all that money after all. You seem to imply that if Alabama can recruit well, then they must be cheating. Richardson will start for the Tide next year, and I look forward to seeing his highlights on ESPN after he puts 200 yards on Auburn. I will remember what you said when it happens. If Auburn gets a good recruit, do you question how they do things down there? If I am not mistaken, Auburn leads the conference in cheating. I hope Auburn can recruit better, but I seriously doubt they will be much of a threat to Saban and Bama for awhile.

  9. 11
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    No response on the car I see. Just more “we are great and you suck” B.S. First off. Who says that Auburn isnt getting good recruits ? Not as high profile as you guys for sure. But we had a decent class, considering the cucimstances. And the whole point that julio was making went right over your head. I wonder what hes driving ? Hell man, they prolly bought that dude a Ferrari.

  10. 12

    Upchurch is likely gone with a bum neck. Coffee leaving, Grant might transfer – trust me, Trent will get plenty of carries. If there’s any program where a fella would be jockeying for touches, it’s UF. Hell, he’d have to split rushing time with his own QB.

  11. 13

    Ballplay, I wasn’t even talking to you dickhead. I heard what Julio was saying. Trying to make a conspiracy of why Richardson chose Alabama over Florida. I know it doesn’t make sense to you Auburn guys, because why would any decent player ever want too come to Bama? Typical Auburn response: They must be cheating!

    If I felt the need to try to explain away any of this to you Auburn boobs here then I would be as crazy as you all are. I don’t care what you guys think, tell each other Bama is buying Escalades and Ferraris. If it makes you feel better. Ya’ll are going to have to tell each other something to explain to the kids why Auburn can’t hardly compete with Bama anymore, all of the sudden. I am sure most of you are still in shock over the turn of events the past few years.

  12. 14
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    First off………Why the harsh language? Im deeply hurt. I do have feelings ,you know……….Nah not really..

    Second……You havent owned anydamthing the “last FEW years”……Just one year. Oh , I forgot , you cant count past one.

    Third…No one is in shock over what Bama has done (wich isnt much). I know that FINALLY beating Auburn is the pinnicle of Bama Ball over the last quarter century, but please understand. We couldnt keep kicking your asses forever.

    Fourthly……..Kirkpatrick is still pimpin in his new Charger. And there aint no way you can explain it away.

  13. 15

    Well, Ballplay, you are my favorite Auburn whipping boy. Didn’t you know?

    You can say what you want about it, but things have changed a lot since Shula was fired. I didn’t expect the fallout to take Auburn down so quickly. But yet it has. You can say Bama hasn’t done anything, but Saban has quickly mined the recruiting to put Alabama in excellent shape for the coming years. You see it coming, but I know you won’t admit it.

    Who cares what these kids drive? My parents bought me a new car for graduating. You Auburn people think if you say it enough it might be true. I am sure there are some Auburn commits driving nice cars also. But like i said before, the Auburn Motto: If Bama does anything good, they are cheating!

    Is that really all you guys have? What about how Auburn is going to compete again in this state after you guys had the advantage. What did it get you? 6 wins over Bama? What else did you get? What? Only 1 SEC championship? Bama got one too. See how quickly those 6 wins don’t mean anything? I will bet Bama plays for more SEC championships in the next 4-6 years than Auburn does. While putting up a 7 game streak on you guys. Man, that is going to be funny right there.

  14. 16
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    You cant whoop nuttin there Brandy……Besides maybe your lilly .

  15. 17

    Ballplay, Brando just did a nut kick on you. Seriously, are you for real trying to insinuate if Bama gets good recruits we are buying them cars? If you do, you really are an idiot after the probation we just got over. Believe me, Aub will be caught cheating trying to catch up with Bama with Dye and company before Bama does anything stupid like that, we don’t have to. I know it is killing the Aubs for us to have back to back number one recruiting classes, but we are not paying 4 mil a year to a coach with a 5 and 19 record our man has impressive credentials and the man recruits national championship caliber players that have and will win national championships, get used to it.

  16. 18
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    No one nutkicked nobody there crimson goggled Bama boy. I didnt insinuate anything. I flat out said it. Kirkpatrick is pimpin in a new Charger. With no tag. The day after signing day.

    Im sure Bama had nothing to do with it.

    Yeah, thats the ticket.

  17. 19
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    No one nutkicked nobody there crimson goggled Bama boy. I didnt insinuate anything. I just said what I heard. From a reliable source, I might add.

    A new 35,000 dollar car , the day after signing day. Maybe he was driving someone elses. I dont know.

    But if i were yall , Id be worried.

  18. 20
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    I toned down the second post, After all. Im not a flamer. And dont wasnt to accuse someone of something I dont know 100% sure about.

  19. 21

    Ballplay, are you so obsessed you are now tracking and stalking Bama players? Man, I better not see an Auburn commit driving a new car, because I am going to tell on them.

    You are such a joke of an Auburn fan. If I were you, the thing I would be worried about is Auburns rebuilding and new coach. But no, not Ballplay. The only way Bama can get a good player is to cheat. Unlike Auburn, where the 2 and 3 stars work for everything the honest way.

    Nothing will come of your accusations, except that you look a little more paranoid about the domination that your team is feeling right now. But you be sure to come here for everything you want to cry about. It’s okay Ballplay. We know it just ain’t fair.

  20. 22

    Ballplay, as I recall you claimed Julio had nutkicked me before, how’s that feel? Nobody nut kick’s me. If you want to throw that foolishness out about the new car crap we can play that both ways til the cows come home, better look for some other reason top tier players want to play for the national coach of the year instead of the national joke of the year. . . oh, I just answered my own question. And Ballplay, believe me we are not worried, but Aub better be, yall need to at least make it to a lower tier bowl game this year with all those top notch coaches you got there or they will be looking for jobs and top notch recruits won’t be looking at all.

  21. 23
    Auburnisajoke formerly the fan known as Ballplay Indian.

    The difference in the nutkicking that you got and the claimed nutkicking that I got was this. julio blew you flat with FACTS. And you could do nothing in response. Hence the “nutkick”. The alleged “nutkick” that you say I recieved was over Brandy saying something akin to “Awburn sux”. There really is no comparison. You recieved a All-World rack to the nuts. I recieved a tickle to the scrotum.

  22. 24

    I aint tickled no scrotum. Julio is a self-proclaimed bullshit artist. Ballplay is still in denial. That is all.

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