Saban

ESPN/ABC reporter Maria Taylor, left, got a reaction out of Nick Saban on Saturday night.

Nick Saban got testy with an on-field reporter after Alabama's win Saturday, and so many of us just want to dismiss it as, "That's just Nick."

Good ol' Nick. He showed that reporter. Why shouldn't he get upset when she asked him about the quarterbacks? Doesn't she know he's been asked about quarterbacks over and over?

And why are people so upset about this? Why should Saban have to apologize for that?

He jumps on reporters all the time. Name one who hasn't felt the wrath of Nick Saban, and that's a reporter who sits in those news conference and never, ever asks a question.

Judging that rant on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being passive aggressive sarcasm with a smile and 10 being Mount St. Helens, that was maybe a 2 or a 3.

But ...

There's an uncomfortable truth that some of us are missing about that interview after Alabama's 51-14 win over Louisville.

Why are we so willing to defend a coach with Saban's power and privilege who aggressively dismissed ESPN/ABC reporter Maria Taylor's relatively by-the-book question?

Nothing was wrong with what she asked or how she asked it. Saban likely expected the question. If he didn't, he should have.

The two Alabama quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, were the big story of the week, and she tried to advance the narrative by asking about how they performed in this particular game.

Taylor: Everyone had a question about who was going to start at quarterback when this game started. What answers did you have about your quarterbacks after watching them both play tonight?

Saban: I still like both guys. I think both guys are good players. I think both guys can help our team. (Starts speaking more forcefully.) A'ight, so why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn't respect one of them? I'm not going to. So quit asking.

If you feel it's off-base to call out Saban for this one particular incident and not for the others through the years, that's a point worth considering. He treats the beat reporters this way, too.

It's so easy for us to say, "That's just Nick," and leave it at that.

When Saban first came to Alabama, I worked as a sports editor at another newspaper, and my Alabama beat writer kept telling me what he thought were funny stories about how the new coach treated him.

To me, they didn't sound so funny. I considered calling the university's media relations director and ask for a meeting to say that this wasn't cool.

But, I happened across a TV station's video on the Internet from a post-practice briefing, and I could see there was an underlying vibe of sarcasm and humor from Saban. Even though his words were sometimes harsh, I no longer felt it should be addressed with the school. At least he knew my guy's name.

Again, we've grown accustomed to all of this from Saban, and perhaps we shouldn't be so comfortable with it any longer.

The nation got to see Saturday night what we see often.

Later Saturday night, Saban called Taylor and apologized. He confirmed that Monday afternoon. Good on him.

But has he learned anything? Faced with the same situation again, will he behave like a bully again?

The world is changing, and even Nick Saban has to change with it.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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