DESTIN, Fla. -- The joking and chances to take shots at opposing coaches is alive and well on the coaching caravan circuit.
Off-the-cuff remarks to get crowds going at booster club meetings bring cheers and applause inside those well-catered rooms, but they can bring controversy once they're made public.
The SEC isn't a stranger to such incidents, but a recent devil-related comment from Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis directed at Alabama's Nick Saban has created a little more awkwardness than expected.
Here's the rundown: Davis, who coached under Saban while with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, called Saban "the devil himself" while trying to compare his old boss to his new boss, Will Muschamp, at a booster club meeting in mid-May.
"I've always wanted to work with Will [Muschamp]," Davis said. "Will's got a plan. Will coached under the devil himself for seven years. I only did three. He did seven. And his DNA is not any different than Nick."
At the time, it didn't seem that much would come from a comment made to excite a crowd of Gators fans. It was all in fun, and the tongue-in-cheek association of Saban and Satan is nothing new. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin even called Saban "Nicky Satan" during a high school banquet earlier this year.
But even the conference's most focused man is a little fed up with the whole thing. Shortly after Davis' comments hit the Internet, Saban responded by saying he was "disappointed" with his former assistant's comment.
Tuesday, Saban expanded on his disappointment during the first day of the SEC spring meetings:
"I'm disappointed because when guys work for you you have feelings for them and you're hopeful that they don't feel that way, but if somebody did feel that way I just wish they would tell me because I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad.
"When you're in a position of leadership, sometimes you have to make people do things they don't want to do for the betterment of the program and to get them to do their job the way they need to. I'm not directing that to anybody in particular, but somebody may not like that."
Saban added that Muschamp and Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley both called to apologize for Davis' comment. Saban isn't mad at Muschamp or Florida, but it's clear that he isn't totally over what Davis said. If he was, he'd make it pretty clear by not discussing the issue. Saban has way more important things to worry about.
That's what makes this all very interesting. Saban usually doesn't care what anyone thinks about him or his program. He goes about his business -- and very well, I might add -- and gets his players and coaches focused on the pigskin. Outside comments rarely make much of an impact on Saban.
But the mudslinging is getting to him:
"If we're in a position of leadership, we should set an example that somebody should want to emulate. … So why do we need to say things like that that's detrimental to somebody else if you're in a position of leadership? Because you don't need to do that. You don't need to tear down somebody else to make yourself look better, or whatever. You need to be focused on what you need to do in your program so that you can be the best that you can be. And that doesn't have anything to do what anybody else is doing."
Saban has a point, but jokes are going to be made at booster clubs. You take shots to generate excitement. This is nothing new, and I don't think Saban cares about jokes being made, but he's not pleased with a former assistant comparing him to the Prince of Darkness.
I get it, and I think most people would be irked by that. It's way more personal when a former employee takes a shot like that, but when you're on top, people will come after you. It's human nature.
Saban has more to worry about than Davis popping off, but I'm sure he won't forget this if the Gators find a way to play Alabama in the near future.