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Nick Saban: Making Friends and Influencing People (Again)

You don't generally have to look very far to find people who don't like Alabama coach Nick Saban. Of course, when you're a congenital liar* and an unapologetic cheater** you tend to make enemies faster than the average Joe, so that's no surprise.

But Slick Nick may have just gotten under the skin of the one person on Earth who you figured was impervious to him. Mark Richt.

The, uh, news, comes courtesy of the Shreveport Times, which did a story Friday on the relationships among the various SEC coaches attending the Conferences annual meetings down in Destin. It was probably intended to be one of those fluffy pieces reporters look for during these meetings, with snarky quips from Spurrier, indeciphirable growling from Orgeron, yada, yada, yada.

However, reporter Glen Guilbeau got more than that. I'll let him take over the story at this point (pulling from the Shreveport Times article):

Georgia coach Mark Richt looked forward to the meetings in his first year in 2001.

"I was curious as to what it was going to be like in there," he said. "I was almost shocked at how cordial everybody is and how they seemed to get along real good. I think what I found is you've got a bunch of guys who have a respect for the job that the other has."Just then, Florida coach Urban Meyer walked by, and Richt said, "Hey Urban, how are you?"

Back on subject, Richt said, "Everyone knows just how difficult of a job it really is."But then Saban walked by, gave a friendly hello and told Richt he had recently been in an Athens, Ga., nightclub to watch his son Nicholas Saban's band play and said he noticed a lot of Georgia's football players at the club.

Richt was obviously taken aback by the comments. Was Saban kidding? Does Saban, who spends a lot of off time in north Georgia on Lake Burton, realize that Richt just lost Parade All-American, redshirt freshman linebacker Akeem Hebron? Hebron just transferred after being suspended for two semesters following a pair of recent alcohol-related arrests.

Richt had no comment, but witnesses said he did not appear cordial and seemed angry.

Now, if I were an Oklahoma fan, I have to admit I would find this little anecdote pretty funny. But knowing both a)the trouble we've had recently with alcohol-related conduct issues, and b)Coach Richt's personal faith, I have to say that if true, this was incredibly poor form. Now, Mark Richt is not the type of guy who angers easily in public. But if I was doing an interview and Saban walked up and tossed a proverbial hand grenade like that, I would remember it. I'm willing to bet that Mark Richt won't forget it, either.

Oh, no doubt Coach Richt's heard worse, but Saban's Spurrier-esque delivery confirms that there is indeed a new jacka## in town. And I think the recent revelation about his improper contact with three Miami-area recruits points to the fact that some in the media, and probably in coaching circles, have their eyes on Saban. Maybe I'm wrong, but something tells me this guy is going to do or say some things that Alabama fans are going to end up regretting.

*This is really just a joke on my part. Totally harmless fun. Kind of like telling a Coach who's trying to instill discipline in his players that you just saw some of them in a bar. That's so funny in a 9th grade, "shaving cream in the hand"sort of way.

**I'm not joking at all about this. Saban's going to get Alabama in hot water with the NCAA (again) within the next four years, assuming he stays around that long. Bank it.