They were talking about Saban’s decision not to suspend Cam Robinson, who was arrested in a Louisiana park at 4 a.m.
The conversation went something like this:
Saban: “If they really did something wrong, they would have been charged with something.”
Finebaum: “That’s debatable.”
Saban: “Do we condone the behavior? No. But you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty in this country regardless if you get convicted in the media or not, which is what you’re doing.”
Finebaum: “So you’re not going to suspend …”
Saban: “Because I’m not going to convict him in public … end of conversation.”
While that short exchange was the most talked about part of the head coach of the defending national champion’s portion of SEC Media Days, Saban had plenty of other things to say about his team.
Earlier, the Crimson Tide coach faced the media in the upstairs “big room” at The Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel.
“The one thing I will miss is I’m usually up here responding to some barb from Coach (Steve) Spurrier, who is probably playing a lot of golf. He has made a tremendous impact on the game (of football) and I’m sure he will continue to do that with his leadership and deeds and actions even though he’s not coaching.”
This was Saban’s 15th SEC Media Day, 11 at Alabama and four at LSU.
“We lost some really good players from last year’s team,” he said.
For the third year in a row, Saban said the Crimson Tide is heading into the season with a new starting quarterback. Who will that be? Still unknown.
“Somebody has got to win the job, somebody has got to win the team,” Saban said. “That’s going to happen, I hope in fall camp. I’m not sure we have all the parts this year, but certainly we’re working to develop them.”
Saban also pointed out that this is the first time in his 10 years at Alabama that there is not “an experienced, talented running back who has proven his value.” He went back to Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry.
Alabama returns six defensive starters but “we lost some really, really good players and we lost a lot of depth, which will be a good challenge for us to replace, especially up front.”
In the secondary, Saban is more comfortable with Eddie Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and Minkah Fitzpatrick returning.
The Tide also has a new defensive coordinator. Jeremy Pruitt replaces Kirby Smart, now the head coach at his alma mater, Georgia.
“Jeremy was with us for five years prior to going to Florida State, where they won the national championship when he was defensive coordinator. Then he went to Georgia and did a good job. He knows our system.”
Lane Kiffin is back for his third year as offensive coordinator.
“I think every coach that we have brought in has made an improvement in terms of helping me develop new ideas, new experiences, because we’re always looking for a better way,” Saban said.
Ask about the no-huddle offense, which Alabama has aptly adopted, Saban gave credit to Kiffin.
“Lane was really a no-huddle guy,” Saban said. “That was something we did philosophically because of the issues that it created for us, you know, defensively.”