Nick Saban: Not sorry for opportunity

ByAlex Scarborough ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabamacoach Nick Saban would not apologize for signing Jonathan Taylor, but he did say Monday that he was "very, very sorry for the way this worked out."

Saban, athletic director Bill Battle and the Alabama administration gave Taylor what they called a "second chance" in January, a year after he was dismissed by Georgia following an arrest for felony aggravated assault and family violence. On Saturday night, the 6-foot-4, 335-pound defensive lineman was arrested again on a domestic violence charge. He was dismissedon Sunday.

"I'm not sorry for giving him an opportunity. I'm sorry for the way things worked out," Saban told reporters in Tuscaloosa. "I'm not apologizing for the opportunity that we gave him. I wanted to try to help the guy make it work. It didn't work. So we're sorry that it didn't work and we're sorry there was an incident and we're sorry for the people that were involved in the incident. But we're not apologizing for what we did, and we're going to continue to create opportunities for people in the future and we'll very, very closely evaluate anyone's character that we allow in the program."

Taylor, 21, is charged with domestic violence third-degree assault and domestic violence third-degree criminal mischief in Tuscaloosa.

According to an incident report, Tuscaloosa Police Department officers responded to a call near the Alabama campus to speak with a woman who told police she was assaulted by her boyfriend. The 24-year-old victim had "minor injuries to her neck from the assault." Officers also noticed a bedroom door that had a "hole punched in it."

Taylor, who spent a year at a junior college before enrolling at Alabama, still faces a trial in Athens, Georgia, on two felony counts of aggravated assault. Three months before that alleged altercation with his girlfriend, he was one of four Georgia players arrested on misdemeanor charges of theft by deception for allegedly double-cashing meal-reimbursement checks from the athletic department.

Taylor was not involved in any known police incidents at the Wesson, Mississippi, junior college he was enrolled at, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, ESPN has confirmed.

Saban, who said "it's not always going to work out" giving players second chances, argued in favor of his decision to sign Taylor. At times defensive, he tried to emphasize the success stories he's had with troubled athletes and turn the attention to the other players on the roster who have not run afoul of the law.

"He did everything we asked him to do here," Saban said of Taylor. "He had a lot of psychological profiling, a lot of psychological counseling. He never missed a session. He did everything he was supposed to do. We're sorry there was an incident. We levied the consequences. I think that's all there is to talk about when it comes to that. We have 125 other players on our team that are doing really well. There's really nothing else to talk about. Jonathan Taylor came here, we gave him an opportunity, it didn't work out, he failed, we're sorry, it's time to move on."

Battle said in a statement that: "Violent conduct by any representative of the University of Alabama athletics department will not be tolerated."

"I believe in second chances. I still do," he wrote Sunday. "However, being successful in that second chance requires responsibility and accountability. In Jonathan's situation, the University and the Department of Athletics set forth very clear standards of accountability and expectations of conduct. Jonathan was afforded a chance to successfully overcome the difficulties that resulted in his departure from the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, it appears that he was unable to do so, in spite of extensive efforts to assist him."

Saban said that despite what's happened with Taylor, he hopes he can help him in the future.

"I still think he's a good person," he said. "I think he has a problem and a circumstance and a situation that is not acceptable, and that is his problem. And he has been certainly dealt with relative to this problem."

As far as the punishment facing defensive back Geno Smith, who was arrested and charged with his second DUI this past weekend, Saban said he gave "no consideration" to dismissing him and that he would be dealt with in-house.

Citing his dealings with his children, Saban cautioned not to "throw them out with the bathwater every time they do something wrong."

"This is a second for him," he added. "There are a series of things he has to do, internally, which will be inpatient and outpatient to help him get better. We have a series of counseling things we're going to do to help him with psychological disposition so he can be more positive and not need to do things like this. So we're trying to help the person. And when we feel like we've helped them enough that he can get back on the field, then we'll do that."

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