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Thursday, August 13, 2009
Saban thinks Tide got raw deal in textbook case

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- As Alabama awaits the results of its appeal on the penalties handed down by the NCAA in the textbook case, Nick Saban doesn't mind saying that he thinks the Crimson Tide got a raw deal.

The football team was forced to vacate 21 victories during the 2005-2007 seasons and placed on three years' probation. The university isn't contesting the probationary period, but is asking that the 21 wins be restored.

Saban's disappointment with the NCAA's decision to strip the Crimson Tide of five wins in 2007 revolves around the fact that the school took immediate action when it discovered that there was a problem. Starters Antoine Caldwell, Marlon Davis and Glen Coffee were suspended for four games along with Chris Rogers and Marquis Johnson.

"The institution did it right. This is not something we got turned in for by somebody else. We self-reported everything and gave every bit of information to the NCAA," said Saban, whose first season at Alabama was 2007.

"To me, if you're going to get treated that way, there should be something out there that says, 'When you self-report it and do things right and are pro-active in handling your situation and are giving the NCAA all the information, there should be some kind of established parameters as long as a competitive advantage wasn't gained -- cheating in recruiting, extra benefits, academic fraud.' All those things are different, completely different. But you didn't have a competitive advantage in this case."

In other words, Saban's having a hard time seeing how the punishment fits the crime, especially given the fact that Alabama suspended the five offending players for the number of games the NCAA said they should be suspended.

He simply doesn't get how a retro penalty of vacating wins would be tacked on when the Crimson Tide acted so decisively in 2007.

"We didn't win any games around here because of what happened," Saban said. "Nobody made any money on those books. All the books were turned in. If you got a book for your buddy or your girlfriend, they all got turned in at the end because that was the book policy here at the time. There was no competitive advantage gained.

"Now, if you had a guy on your team taking steroids, just as an example, and that created a competitive advantage because he was bigger and faster, you wouldn't go back and say every game you won because that guy was playing that you were going to take away the win.

"You suspend him moving forward, and that's his punishment. That's his penalty ... and we did that."