Saban said he spoke with Rolando McClain before the former Crimson Tide linebacker announced he is retiring from the NFL at 23. McClain signed a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens a month ago, and was arrested in his hometown of Decatur 10 days later. The arrest was McClain’s third since December 2011.
Still, Saban was supportive of McClain’s decision to step away from the game. He said the two have spoken several times in the past month.
“Ro did a great job for us, and I’ve had a real close relationship with him. We’ve talked about it a couple times,” Saban said Thursday during his Crimson Caravan stop at Turner Field. “I think Ro is just in a place right now where he doesn’t think he can do his best.
“I think he’s a prideful guy, and he’d like to get things straightened out personally then decide whether he wants to continue to play football or not.”
Saban said he thinks McClain is doing the right thing by stepping away and getting his life in order.
“I just hope he decides to come back and finish his degree,” Saban said. “If he decides to do something else, there’ll be something else that he’s qualified to do, that he wants to do.”
Saban also addressed the comments made by aformer staff member, Tim Davis, the current Florida offensive line coach. Davis referred to Saban “the devil himself” Tuesday at a booster club meeting in Melbourne, Fla.
“It really is a little terribly disappointing,” Saban said. “I try to do right by the people that work for me. It’s a tough, demanding job. And at the same time, if anybody had an issue or problem with me, I would want them to just tell me.”
Saban said the comments were different coming from someone who has worked for him.
“It’s just disappointing. If somebody has a problem with me, I’d appreciate it if they’d tell me,” Saban said. “If I’m doing something to offend somebody, I’d certainly like to do whatever I have to do to fix it. It’s not our intention. It’s not what we try to do.
“We’re in a tough business. It’s very competitive. Sometimes you’ve got to demand that people do things that maybe they don’t want to do, but it’s not personal.”
Saban mentioned that he didn’t feel Davis’ comments reflected the view of Florida coach Will Muschamp or the University of Florida. Saban said he and Muschamp have a close relationship.