On Wednesday, Nick Saban stood before the press at SEC Football Media Days and spoke on his team. By the time the Q&A wrapped up, no reporter had addressed the elephant in the room - the status of Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson and safety Hootie Jones. The two were arrested in the early hours of May 17 in a park in their hometown of Monroe, Louisiana on misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance and illegal carrying of a weapon in the presence of narcotics. Robinson also was charged with a felony for possessing a stolen firearm. All charges were later dropped.
SABAN VS. FINEBAUM ROUND 1
Following Saban's comment, the SEC Network crew admonished the media for not asking about Robinson and Jones. Dari Nowkhah was like a kid in a schoolyard goading Paul Finebaum and pumping him up like he is going to be the big hero of the media to confront Saban. The results are as follows:
And that was the end of the conversation... at least on the air.
SABAN VS. FINEBAUM ROUND 2
After the segment was over and SEC Network went to commercials, Saban had a further discussion with Finebaum. Nobody is letting on what was said but the panel agreed it was not a pleasant conversation. Below is the only video available that was posted by AL.com. Of this discussion, Finebaum referred to it as "incredible anger". In my opinion, this does not look like the rage as told to the television audience upon their return from commercial break, but you be the judge.
Saban appears agitated but not the exaggerated version that Finebaum and Nowkhah blew it up to be. You can hardly even hear Saban's voice but you can clearly hear someone say "thanks for coming on" in a regular voice.
THE REAL FINEBAUM
For those of you who did not know of Finebaum before he became a big TV star, what followed next is who he really is: a pot stirrer, a sensationalist, and a coward. After Saban had walked away and SECN returned from commercials, suddenly Finebaum is a big man again.
He started blustering about how Saban had "insinuated" that the arrest was an "inside job in Louisisana" and the players were being persecuted. You see, this is what he does. He says things like "in my interpretation" and uses words like "insinuated" that allows him to make up whatever bull he wants.
Finebaum further put words in Saban's mouth that there was "some LSU connection". For those of you who have been Alabama fans and followed Saban for the last nine plus years, does that sound like anything the Alabama head coach would say on air or off? He is a very calculated man and rarely misspeaks.
SABAN VS. FINEBAUM ROUND 3
But fear not, Finebaum paid for his behind-the-back comments. Saban had one more scolding for him:
OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS
The AL.com reaction disappoints me. Michael Casagrande has been a pretty stand-up guy since coming on and tends to steer away from sensationalist journalism. But Wednesday he jumped on the bandwagon
Within earshot of media, Saban launched into a four-letter tirade directed at Finebaum. In it, he used his fingers to note the small amount of marijuana found in the car and insinuated the arresting officers were disgruntled LSU fans. Finebaum later confirmed the account on his national radio/television show.
There is that word "insinuated" again. Did he say it or not, Michael?
This was followed by other media outlets like 247sports quoting AL.com but conveniently using the adverb "reportedly", another trick of today's media.
After the interview, Saban reportedly tore into Finebaum for questioning the decision. AL.com reported that Saban blamed the arrests on the officers, who were "disgruntled LSU fans".
If that was the first you had read on the incident, wouldn't you believe it?
SOME TRUTH BEHIND THE BLATHER
While it is difficult to know how any of these conversations really went down, there must be some iota of truth in here that Finebaum did not blow out of proportion. To be honest, I was a little shocked that the charges against Robinson and Jones were dropped. Outsiders can claim REC shenanigans but we are talking about a city two states away. Monroe is hardly a Bama ol' boy outpost. There are usually good reasons why cases like this are dropped with no pleas. They are usually because someone in law enforcement screwed something up.
That said, there must be some substance to the idea that the arrest had some agenda to it. At least that is my interpretation.
(Note: All of the following is public record. Anyone with internet can access this information.)
According to the arrest affidavit, the arresting officer, Sgt. Tommy Crowson, approached a vehicle after detecting a strong odor of marijuana and found Laurence Jones sitting in the passenger seat with a handgun in his lap. Two other men, Jaquez Splond and Steven Jones were in the backseat. The four said they were waiting to meet some girls, according to the Crowson's report. After Crowson saw Laurence Jones' handgun, a Taurus PT 111 PRO .9mm, he called for backup and held all suspects at gunpoint until other officers arrived.
As Robinson was being removed from the vehicle, Crowson said he saw a plastic bag containing what appeared to be marijuana on the drivers side floor board. Pfc. Lazerick Jackson found a Glock G30S .45 handgun under the drivers side seat. According to Jackson's report, the barrel was facing the passenger side and the handle was facing the acceleration and brake pedals...
In Crowson's report, he notes that Jackson questioned one of the rear passengers, who said Robinson owned the Glock. In Jackson's report, however, the backseat passenger he questioned said the car wasn't his and he was unaware of the first weapon found. Jackson's report does not state that one of the passengers said Robinson owned the gun.
THE ARRESTING OFFICERS
I do not know Sgt. Tommy Crowson or Pfc. Lazerick Jackson. I have never spoken to them. All I know is what they have put out there in the public.
A simple internet search finds that both officers have Facebook accounts. Can you guess what high school Crowson went to?
What a coincidence. Sgt. Crowson went to the same high school as Cam Robinson. In my opinion, Crowson had probably heard of Robinson before their encounter. (Crowson did not list a college attended.)
A click on his wife's Facebook account brought up the following post:
First off, don't you LOVE how this has morphed into "Saban says 'disgruntled' LSU fans arrested his players"? That is yellow journalism at its best.
Next, take note to what Tommy Crowson said in regards to his wife's post:
"I've been accused of a lot of things, but never a LSU fan GO GATORS!"
Being a fan of the team that Alabama destroyed in the 2015 SEC Championship Game does not help his case too much. There are more posts of Facebook friends confirming that Crowson is a BIG Florida fan. Would you assume that he follows college football?
Pfc. Lazerick Jackson has two Facebook accounts for some reason. Both confirm his connection to Monroe and their police department.
And then there is this picture of Jackson on his profile:
I wonder what Finebaum would insinuate about that?
Without really knowing, we must assume that officers Crowson and Jackson and their families are good honest people. Crowson was promoted to Sergeant this past December and has a son in the Marines. Jackson is graduate of Louisiana-Monroe.
Maybe something went on here that we don't know about. Maybe someone got a little too eager and let personal feeling get in the way of their job. Or maybe they didn't.
Regardless, let's not stoop to Finebaum's level and harass these people. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt like Saban wants to give Robinson and Jones.
Nobody in any of the parties mentioned above has been found guilty of any wrongdoings.