Many sports personalities lean towards the brash and bold, so it’s somewhat rare to see an apology — especially coming out of the sports media.
With that said, SEC Network star Paul Finebaum was very open about the fact that he was wrong in criticizing Alabama head coach Nick Saban and how he’s handled the case of Da’Shawn Hand.
Hand, as most college football fans now know, was arrested for a DUI in late July. It turns out that he was asleep in his car at the time of his arrest, but he was charged with the DUI because the keys were in the ignition, per state of Alabama law.
Saban, for his part, elected to deal with Hand internally rather than suspend him for any part of the 2017 season — a decision that’s somewhat controversial considering the fact that Hand is expected to be a starter for the Crimson Tide at defensive end.
Finebaum previously ripped Saban for going soft on Hand, going as far to suggest that the Alabama coach suspend his star defensive end for the first game of the season — a monumental clash against Florida State. That’s a stance that Finebaum has apparently gone back on, though, because he sounded a lot softer himself Monday morning on WJOX’s The Morning Drive in Birmingham. Here’s what he had to say, per Nick Cole of SEC Country:
“I really believe Saban handled that extraordinarily well,” Finebaum said. “He was strong and measured. He made all the necessary points and in the end he came down with the right decision. And I say that fully aware that a week ago I had a different opinion, and so did many others.
“I think when we hear ‘driving under the influence’ we all react, and in my case I overreacted. And to Coach Saban’s credit, he made sure he had all the facts, which we didn’t. And he made the right decision, because you can quibble over the circumstances, but the bottom line is that Da’Shawn Hand was in a car that was not moving. Had he been moving, he would have been a tremendous threat to society. Where he was, fortunate or not, he was not. I think the judicial system will handle it accordingly and I think Saban handled it appropriately.”
It’s worth noting that Finebaum’s explanation sounds a lot like what Saban himself said about Hand’s situation. Here’s what the head coach said, per AL.com:
“Da’Shawn put himself in a bad situation, obviously made a mistake being where he was at the time,” Saban said. “But the fact that he didn’t drive the car, which is what we tell the players not to do a and it’s not OK that he was drinking, with me, and that’s a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, and we will address it a but the fact that he didn’t drive the car and wasn’t driving the car and didn’t put other people at risk, which to me is the most significant thing when you drive under the influence a but he didn’t drive.”
Saban isn’t known to be soft on anything — just ask any of his former players — so it was a bit surprising that Finebaum came so hard after him previously. Of course, he was speaking as if Hand was actually driving the car when he got pulled over, which wasn’t the case, and that seemed to be the factor that ended up changing his thoughts on the matter.
It’s probably the factor that ended up solidifying Saban’s thoughts as well.