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College Football

Alabama Reporter Asks Everyone To Respect Nick Saban Even More

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates their 52-46 win over the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 19, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A sure sign of a fabulous grievance is that it’s introduced with, “Something’s been eating at me for… well… about thirteen years,” which foretells a complaint so trifling that it has not merited being aired at any point in that period, and also so intensely, stupidly felt as to consume a certain kind of person for 13 years.

Those would be the words of Rick Karle, a local sports anchor in Birmingham who, as his Twitter bio boasts, “went fishing once with Nick Saban.” In a Facebook post Monday, Karle finally decided to pipe up about this haunting injustice, which is that journalists in press conferences sometimes address Alabama football coach Nick Saban by his first or last name.

What follows are excerpts of a sad and concerning document, suggesting an author who—I mean this in the most sympathetic way—needs badly to get a life:

Oh, I get it.
Some reporters call the coach “Nick” in hopes that the coach perceives himself and the reporter on equal footing.
The problem? The footing is not equal.
Nick Saban is Nick Saban.
We are not.

Who, in my eyes, can call Coach Saban “Nick?”
Miss Terry can.
Lifelong friends can.
His current assistants can.
Perhaps a few in the media world can call him “Nick”:
Chris Lowe, perhaps Finebaum or Rece Davis or Tom Rinaldi.
But the last time I checked, none of the above are any of us.

I have had Coach Saban sit in my kitchen and in my living room.
He’s stood on my front lawn and sat in my dinghy.
In my house, Nick Saban is always “Coach Saban.”
I have stood in the Saban’s living room, kitchen and recruiting room.
I have stood on his front lawn to receive coaching wisdom.
I have sat next to Miss Terry to watch her play the piano.
At the Saban house, he’s always “Coach Saban”.

I have interviewed the coach at A-Day, picture day, after national championship games, on the golf course, at his car dealership- heck, even at the Mercedes Marathon.
He is always “Coach Saban”.

Were this not Karle’s convoluted and vaguely depressing way of telling everyone that Nick Saban once sat in his dinghy and that it was the best moment of Karle’s life, it might be worth poking fun at his objection to the idea that adults address each other by first name, his dubious suggestion that sports media is insufficiently reverent of college football coaches, his unexplained singling out of the Mercedes Marathon, or his needless chastisement of a young woman reporter who did not do anything wrong or unusual. Instead, let me simply gawk at his Facebook post until I die, my face frozen forever in a rictus of secondhand embarrassment. 

Update (3:18 p.m. ET): Karle seems to have deleted the paragraphs describing rooms he has shared with members of the Saban family, but a copy of the original post is linked here.