Alabama coach Nick Saban’s “spanking” of backup quarterback AJ McCarron has received plenty of play this week.
Saban was furious with McCarron following a fourth-quarter possession last week during the 30-10 win over Mississippi State. As McCarron came off the field, Saban met him out on the field and proceeded to get in his face as they walked back to the sideline.
To punctuate his message to his redshirt freshman quarterback, an animated Saban gave McCarron a good, swift pop on the rear with his hand that was caught on camera.
I realize there will be some who insist a coach should never put his hands on a player in any fashion. Those same people probably have never been on a football field.
Saban later called it a “good opportunity to teach” and a “good opportunity for [McCarron] to learn.”
The gist of Saban’s tirade was that McCarron didn’t take what the defense was giving him and throw to the open receiver. He instead tried to force a pass in to Julio Jones.
Never mind that the game was already well in hand. That’s vintage Saban.
It’s one of the things that makes him one of the best coaches in the game. He doesn’t care who’s in the game, what the score is or what the circumstances are. There’s a certain standard that’s been set, and he expects all of his players to play to that standard at all times.
Here’s the other thing: Saban is as high on McCarron as any young player in that program. The first name out of his mouth when I asked him about his freshmen last August soon after they started practice was McCarron.
So you can bet that Saban is going to take every opportunity he can to develop McCarron to the fullest. McCarron understands that, and so do the players who’re committed to being the best they can be.
Star running back Mark Ingram said it best.
“When he doesn't yell at you and he doesn't talk to you anymore, that's when you need to be worried,” Ingram said.
Saban isn’t perfect. And, yes, his temper gets the best of him sometimes, and he can come off as being downright nasty.
But he’s never going to quit coaching … or teaching.