Nick Saban and Nate Oats are not at odds, both Alabama coaches said Thursday.
“He and I have got a great relationship, and I’m really thankful for the support that he has given us and continues to give us with the basketball program at Alabama,” Oats said here, where his No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide are preparing to play San Diego State in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen Friday.
“I don’t make comments about anybody else, and we hope the basketball team does really, really well,” Saban said at the football team’s pro day in Tuscaloosa.
On Monday, Saban made comments that seemed to be aimed at Oats’s own words and actions in the aftermath of the Jan. 15 shooting death of a 23-year-old mother, Jamea Jonae Harris, and the Tide’s involvement in that tragic episode. Then-player Darius Miles has been charged with capital murder for allegedly giving his gun to his friend, Michael Davis, the alleged triggerman in a wild shootout. Current Alabama star Brandon Miller and teammate Jaden Bradley were at the scene that night — news that spilled out of a pre-trial hearing in late February.
In response to that revelation, Oats said at the time that Miller was merely in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” Oats was heavily criticized for the comment and apologized for it. Saban, when announcing the suspension of defensive back Tony Mitchell after his recent arrest of for marijuana possession with intent to deliver, said, “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
This was widely interpreted as a shot at Oats. Saban offered no public clarification or walkback of his remark for two days afterward, but Oats said he talked to Saban “that night” and, “I didn’t take it that way at all.”
“I got a ton of respect for Coach,” Oats said. “He has been tremendously supportive of our program since he has got here. He says it all the time. He wants the entire athletic department to do well. He has been at multiple games this year. He came yesterday to speak to the team.
“He was good. Players loved it.”
Alabama men’s basketball’s social media accounts disseminated pictures of a smiling Oats and Saban together at the ‘Bama hoops practice Wednesday. Without overtly addressing the firestorm Saban’s remarks had created, this seemingly was meant to douse the flames.
Saban on Thursday said he had “nothing to clarify,” adding, “I don’t want basketball coaches’ press conferences. How many years have I been coaching? I’ve never watched one. Never listened to what other people say. It’s strictly about our program and what we do, and has nothing to do with anybody else.”