Alabama fans have been given pretty clear instructions from coach Nick Saban: Don’t boo in front of recruits, and don’t be like Harvey Updyke.
This June, Saban taped an episode of The Golf Channel’s Feherty, which is set to air Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. In it, the coach said that every team — including Alabama — has “about 20 percent bad fans.”
In other words: “They don’t get it,” Saban said. “They’re disrespectful. They do things and say things that don’t really need to be said. That aren’t helpful. That don’t reflect the image of what college football is all about, or even what sports is all about.”
Saban used his television platform to launch a blended attack on media and fans such as Updyke, who famously poisoned Auburn’s trees at Toomer’s Corner in 2010.
“It used to be that we’d use to just report the news,” Saban said. “Now, there’s a lot of creation of a lot of news. And sometimes that’s at the expense of people, programs, trees at Auburn … you know, whatever it is. That’s not a good thing. I like the passion. I like the enthusiasm. I like being apart of it. But at the same time, I think we should all have some restraint in terms of the respect that we have for the participants and the people that are involved in it.”
The coach learned not to read his press while at Michigan State in the 1990s.
Breaking out an anecdote that will shed some light on his loyalty to current Tide kicker Adam Griffith, Saban recounted a struggling Spartans special teams unit that was getting hounded by fans. In a reactionary move, he benched his kicker, and the substitute missed multiple field goals.
“That’s when I decided: I’m not doing this anymore,” Saban said. “That’s not right. That’s not right for our team.”