It’s water under the bridge at this point following instantaneous nationwide outrage and Nick Saban’s subsequent apology, but the Crimson Tide football coach recently made amends with ESPN analyst Maria Taylor on the basketball floor at the University of Alabama’s campus.
The pair, both former college athletes, joined each other for an ultra-competitive game of GOAT and ESPN’s cameras were there to catch it all. If you recall, Saban infamously scolded Taylor live on TV during a post-game interview following the Crimson Tide’s season-opening win over Louisville in Orlando.
A noticeably ticked off Saban went directly to the point coming off the field when approached by Taylor, who received a verbal chewing that went viral after mentioning Tua Tagovailoa vs. Jalen Hurts with her first question. Taylor handled Saban’s heavy-handedness with class and tweeted this after the game: “Don’t mind me … Just doing my job. On to the next game.”
Saban kept his quarterback decision close to the vest throughout the offseason and remained uninterested in saying Tagovailoa is Alabama’s starter with Hurts as the obvious No. 2 early in the season.
“Everyone had questions about who was going to start at quarterback when this game started,” Taylor asked Saban on camera. “What answers did you have about your quarterbacks after watching both of them play tonight?”
Flustered, Saban used Taylor’s question as a teachable moment for all media members.
“Well I still like both guys,” Saban said. “Both guys are good players. Both guys can help our team alright. 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.”
Paul Finebaum called Saban’s rant classless and demanded Taylor, his colleague, receive an apology.
“First of all, it was a perfectly legitimate question asked by an outstanding reporter in a non-threatening way. This was not contentious,” Finebaum said during the aftermatch. “This was not in your face. And for Nick Saban on that stage to treat Maria Taylor like that is totally classless. He does not rule the world. He is a football coach at the University of Alabama. He might be the best coach in college football and best coach of all time, but when he continues to treat people like that, he loses.
“It was totally classless.”
Another colleague of Taylor’s, SEC Network anchor Peter Burns, believes Saban was trying to make a broader point in the tense postgame interview.
“Saban answered the question to Maria Taylor post game that way because he knows Tua is the guy but doesn’t want locker room to be divided,” Burns wrote on Twitter. “That answer was delivering a message to his team, not Maria or the audience. Not a good look, but frankly Saban couldn’t care less.”
Saban did in fact apologize after the incident, personally calling Taylor to do so.