According to Saban, those of us on the outside of the Alabama program can't criticize him for oversigning because we don't know the exact number of players he has on scholarship from year to year.
Funny thing about that. Why don't we know? Alabama won't tell us, even though we ask every year.
Birmingham News colleague Jon Solomon requests a copy of the annual NCAA revenue and expense report from every Division I athletics department in the state. One of the categories on that report is number of student-athletes on scholarship in each varsity sport.
Every Division I public school in this state provides us a copy of those reports. Only Alabama blacks out the scholarship numbers for every sport.
We know from the latest form that Alabama reported spending $3,041,356 on football scholarships for the 2009-10 academic year. We don't know how many players Alabama reported having on scholarship that year.
The News has asked Alabama several times to explain why it withholds information we believe is a public record. The heart of the explanation, from university spokesperson Deborah Lane: "Federal privacy laws prevent the University from providing the media with personally identifiable information related to its students."
Excuse me, but what? The NCAA form doesn't include the names of players on scholarship. Just the numbers. Besides, if Alabama considers it a potential privacy violation to release the number of football players on scholarship, why does the school announce the names of its signees every year?
Alabama's argument is inconsistent with its own practice.
Saban took issue with the numbers used by the media, but his school refuses to provide the actual numbers that could - if they're on his side - undercut the argument from critics of his roster management.
Why does Alabama refuse to provide information that every other Division I public school in this state provides? Why doesn't Saban himself step up and share the numbers that other coaches volunteer?