If you're defending Nate Oats after his Brandon Miller handling, ask yourself why
You can be 2 things at the same time.
You can be a diehard Alabama hoops fan who supported the program long before Nate Oats arrived with his electric, up-tempo style that helped launch the Tide to the top of the AP Poll for the first time in 20 years.
You can also be someone who acknowledges that’s unfathomable that Brandon Miller played in all 27 of Alabama’s games after Oats knew that his freshman sensation brought the gun that was used in a fatal shooting that led to the arrest of former teammate Darius Miles.
According to The Tuscaloosa News, Branden Culpepper of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit testified that Miles texted Miller to bring the gun that police say was used to kill 23-year-old Jamea Harris. Culpepper testified that Miller gave the gun to Miles while in the back seat of Miller’s car, which was struck twice during the shooting. Miles, along with 20-year-old Michael Lynn Davis (he’s not affiliated with the university), were arrested on capital murder charges for the Jan. 15 shooting.
On Tuesday, Oats commented on the ongoing case and said that Miller, who hasn’t been charged with a crime, “isn’t in any type of trouble” and that he was “in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
“We’ve known the situation since (it happened),” Oats said, via AL.com. “We’ve been fully cooperating with law enforcement the entire time. The whole situation is sad. The team closed practice with a prayer for the situation today, knowing that we had this trial today. We think of Jamea and her family, Kaine. Really think about her son, Kaine, that was left behind. So it’s sad.
“We knew about that. Can’t control everything anybody does outside of practice. Nobody knew that was going to happen. College kids are out, Brandon hasn’t been in any type of trouble nor is he in any type of trouble in this case. Wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Here’s Alabama coach Nate Oats’ complete answer when asked about Brandon Miller being at the scene of the fatal shooting on the Strip in January that resulted in the arrest of Darius Miles and Michael Davis pic.twitter.com/jF3QEPFrBZ
— Nick Kelly (@_NickKelly) February 21, 2023
Providing the alleged murder weapon isn’t “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Even if it were, why does that make one exempt of any wrongdoing?
Oats said that he “can’t control everything anybody does outside of practice” and “college kids are out.”
Ah, yes. Because what college kid doesn’t spend their free time “out” allegedly providing a weapon in a murder investigation? And yes, Oats is right that he can’t control everything kids do away from practice, but he can sure as heck punish them for making poor choices outside of those confines. Hence, why Miles was kicked off the team after his arrest.
This isn’t about defending Miller. The legal system is in charge of that now.
This is about if you’re defending the actions — and non-actions — of Oats, AKA a 48-year-old adult making millions of dollars annually at a public university. If that’s you, why? Is it because you’re hoping this blows over and it’s just a bad news day in the midst of an Alabama Final Four run? Are you giving the blind “innocent until proven guilty” response and pretending that an investigator’s testimony is insignificant?
It’s disrespectful to the family of the victim, a 23-year-old mother, for Oats or anyone to play off Miller’s involvement to “college kids are out.” This wasn’t getting thrown out of a bar. This wasn’t getting popped for a fake ID. This wasn’t even drunkenly passing out in a fountain. Those things? College kids being out.
Oats’ first public comments reflected a laissez-faire attitude about a situation that’s anything but that.
Yes, he tried to correct himself via a statement wherein he admitted he made “unfortunate” remarks:
Nate Oats has released a statement. pic.twitter.com/yoKMZPdVTG
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 22, 2023
Clearly, Oats was in the wrong for his initial comments. What his statement didn’t change was why Miller continues to not be in “any trouble of any kind” for the involvement outlined by the investigator. If Miller was a walk-on and not the best player for a potential national championship team, would that still be the case? We don’t know the answer to that. All we know is that Miller’s involvement didn’t warrant so much as some extra conditioning. Remember, Oats said he wasn’t in “any trouble of any kind.”
It’s unthinkable that showing up late to practice could be a punishable offense but being accused by police of supplying a murder weapon is a “play on.”
What’s troubling is that between the time of Miles’ arrest and Tuesday’s revelation of Miller’s alleged involvement, Oats signed an extension that’ll make him 1 of the 10 highest-paid coaches in America. Undoubtedly, the success of this year’s squad in a bounce-back year played a big part of it.
As long as Miller avoids arrest, it’s safe to assume that he’ll be part of any sort of March run for the Tide. At this point, we should assume that anything short of that won’t be enough to warrant Miller being in “any trouble of any kind.”
If you want to pretend that Miller is just a kid and that he deserves grace, fine. You can acknowledge that he made a mistake and choose to forgive Miller, the person. But grace and negligence are 2 different things, especially when it comes to holding decorated college athletes accountable. Both of those things seemed to conveniently benefit a star amidst a serious situation.
Well, investigators are taking it seriously. Oats? Maybe he’ll show that at his next press conference.
Oats doesn’t need your unconditional support right now. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve it.
He needs a time machine to go back and give Miller discipline of any kind.