Sometimes it's easy to criticize Alabama's Nick Saban, who comes off as a brilliant football coach but not always an endearing figure. But with the LaMichael Fanning incident, Saban gave a perfect example of what a college football coach's job should be.
Saban turned an ugly body slam of a Missouri player into a lesson for the freshman defensive tackle, and hopefully for the rest of his program.
Near the end of an Alabama blowout win, Fanning picked up running back Russell Hansbrough and gave him a wrestling-style suplex, dropping him on his head. Here's the video:
It was an ugly and awful incident. Thankfully Hansbrough wasn't hurt. He could have been seriously injured. Announcers Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson immediately speculated that Fanning could be suspended for the play, and that probably wouldn't be an overreaction from the SEC office.
Credit to Saban and Fanning for what happened in the aftermath, however. Saban called Missouri coach Gary Pinkel to apologize, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Saban said Fanning wrote letters of apology to Pinkel and Hansbrough, according to many reports Monday. That's a classy way to make up for an very bad lapse in judgment.
Saban said during his press conference that he didn't condone the play.
"Very, very poor decision," Saban said, according to a tweet from AP's John Zenor. "We are managing internally things for him [to] do."
The cheap shot was unfortunate for everyone involved, especially Fanning, but at least something good may come out of it, thanks to the Alabama coach's leadership in the situation.
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