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Saban learns a valuable lesson early

If Nick Saban's dog were named Toto, it would be fitting because Toto, and Nick: you're not in Kansas anymore.

Or Miami, as the case may be.

This week, a tape surfaced on the Internet with the Alabama head coach calling an LSU fan a &#8220coonass,” and Saban has taken a beating in the media for it.

I, for one, have sympathy for the coach.

Besides, he could have called LSU fans worse than that.

The tape in question was recorded by a member of the Miami media the day Saban left South Beach for Tuscaloosa and the remarks were made off the record.

Saban is quoted on the tape as he recants a story a friend told him about a Louisiana man voicing his displeasure in the way Saban left Baton Rouge for Miami.

Saban calls the Louisiana man the derogatory term as a form of identifying his heavy Louisiana drawl, and then says he can't impersonate that dialect.

So one has to ask: what's the big deal?

People from Louisiana often refer to each other with that name, so why can't Saban use it?

The reason Saban can't use such words is simple: he is the head coach at the University of Alabama.

The position of head coach at the Capstone is like no other amateur coaching position in the nation or maybe even the world.

With no professional teams and politics that are already corrupt, the media in the state of Alabama have nothing better to do than follow every movement of those coaches we love and admire, namely those at Alabama and Auburn.

On top of that, Saban is not just any coach. He is a championship coach who arrived with more media hype than when the Beatles first arrived to the United States.

With the emergence of the Internet and mobile phones with cameras and Internet access, the quest to be the first to break a story has become an all-out dogfight and people will do anything to get the scoop.

That includes taping a coach's off-the-record conversation with a recorder in your pocket.

When former Alabama head coach Mike Price went to a strip club in Pensacola, Fla., I'm sure he thought he was safe because he was out of the state.

Wrong.

No Alabama coach, especially one like Saban, is safe from the media unless he is in the confines of his own home.

Well, maybe not even there.

Saban's remarks were taken out of context and taken out of spite.

The Miami reporter who leaked the comments knew what he was doing and did so out of anger.

I hope he's happy with his punishment of not being able to cover the Super Bowl on Sunday.

As for those who thought the comments were a shot at LSU fans, think again.

If Saban had wanted to take a shot at LSU fans, he would have used the other &#8220c” word and called the man a &#8220corndog.” (Reference story &#8220Geaux home Tigers,” 11/11/05 at www.datelinealabama.com)

Because isn't that what LSU fans truly are?

Just a bunch of beer-battered weiners.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com.