Paul Finebaum recounts tense confrontation with Nick Saban during 2016 SEC Media Days
Paul Finebaum is one of the most well-known voices in college football and has been a staple around SEC Media Days. His relationship with Nick Saban seems to be a good one, though the two once had a heated back-and-forth during the 2016 SEC Media Days.
“That is something that happened I believe 2015, 2016 — I really don’t even remember but a couple of players at Alabama had been arrested in Louisiana, and one had a gun in his car. He claimed he had fallen asleep. I don’t remember all the details,” stated Finebaum as transcribed by Stephen Samra with On3. “What I didn’t understand, and I’ll explain this in a minute, at the big press conference, the one that we televised, we’re all sitting there and I vaguely remember you being on the set. I was next to Saban, and the first question of Saban from the room came from Touchdown Alabama, which is a great organization, about who he thought would be the starting right tackle. Next one was even more obscure. I mean, they came back to us on set and Dari Nowkhah said I mean, it’s amazing that nobody was going to ask the question.
“Five minutes later here comes Saban, and Dari asked the first question and then I followed up, and Saban gave a typical Nick Saban response, you’ve heard a million of. I interrupted him. Have you ever seen anybody interrupt him? So he didn’t like it. He expounded on his answer. I interrupted his bloviating and he basically said, ‘Well, you want to see this guy suspended.’ I said, I came back and said, ‘No I don’t.’ And it went back and forth. The second it was over, everybody was holding their breath.”
Finebaum then went on to describe how Saban went on to chew him out even worse off set.
“We were, all the media was behind us, I didn’t realize a crowd had gathered. I wasn’t thinking about it. He started chewing me out even worse,” added Finebaum. “Somebody from AL.com had the video, and it went crazy. So, about an hour later I’m going to the washroom and he stops me again. He said, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to be a parent.’ At that point I’m just nodding my head and he’s screaming and hollering. Finally, he left. .. I think he realized, I’m getting calls from Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome — everybody’s calling. ‘Hey, it’s about time you stood up to that guy.’ Meanwhile Alabama fans are all just excoriating me for being taken behind the woodshed by Nick Saban.”
Later that day, Finebaum said people were letting him know Saban was trying to get a hold of him. Eventually, Finebaum agreed to return Saban’s call.
“So I called him back, and it was quintessential Nick Saban. ‘Hey Buddy, how you doing?’ I said, ‘Doing fine Coach.’ Instead of saying I’m sorry, I apologize, maybe we’re both at fault, maybe you’re at fault. He said, ‘Hey buddy, hope you don’t think I’m mad at you.’ I’m going I’m good, I’m fine. He’s going, I mean we’ve been friends a long time, you’ve been great for us, you always help the program, you mean a lot to college football. I said, ‘Well thank you Coach.’ It was utterly bewildering having that experience that so many people like you have dealt with on a much worse basis,” stated Finebaum. “It really, and I’m not self aggrandizing here but it was the story of media day. Nothing else came close.”
Fortunately, the two hashed things out after a tense day of back-and-forth.