Nick Saban catches heat for signing ex-UGA player

Nick Saban has yet to comment on Jonathan Taylor (AP)

Nick Saban has yet to comment on Jonathan Taylor (AP)

Nick Saban has caught a lot of heat for this week’s signing of Jonathan Taylor, who was kicked off UGA’s football team after being arrested for aggravated assault and domestic violence.

The arrest happened last summer and was Taylor’s second run-in with the law within a few months. Police said evidence and witness accounts indicted that the 6-foot-4, 340-pound Taylor “choked” and “struck with a closed fist” his 5-11, 170-pound female victim. She was left with “visible scratches and red marks to her neck and bruises on her arm and leg,” according to the police report. The case remains pending and unresolved at UGA.

Taylor spent this season at a Mississippi junior college, and he started classes at Alabama on Wednesday.

Why on Earth would Nick Saban want to expose the SEC’s premiere football program to this type of situation when sensitivity about domestic violence is at an all-time high? Why take the risk? Why the “third chance”? Who knows? Saban has declined interview requests, instead letting school officials to try to deal with media firestorm.

There are plenty of others with opinions on the head-scratching personnel decision by Saban. Here are some:

  • ESPN’s Alex Scarborough: “… So, no, this isn’t about second chances at all. It’s not about third chances, either. It’s about gravity. When you fall you should actually fall down … Falling up to Alabama after being booted from Georgia defies gravity. He not only rebounded to another FBS program, he boomeranged to the SEC’s premier team, where he’ll be part of a defensive line that could be among the best in college football in 2015. Calling Taylor’s signing a ‘second chance,’ as Alabama athletic director Bill Battle described it in a statement, is not only a mischaracterization, it’s an overstatement. It’s glossing over Taylor’s missteps while ignoring the crimes of which he’s been accused. Taylor is still facing two felony counts of aggravated assault, as well as an April trial on misdemeanor theft charges.”
  • Al.com’s Kevin Scarbinsky: “Saban’s willingness to give young men a chance to change their lives for the better, especially if they can help his football team, is commendable. It’s also not uncommon among college football coaches. But where do you draw the line? There are a lot of options between condemning a young man to a life sentence and offering him a scholarship to the most prominent college football program in the country. Taylor wasn’t accused of just making a mistake. A mistake is forgetting to pay a parking ticket. Choking and striking a woman with a closed fist is an act of violence, and violence against women would seem like a good place for SEC football programs to draw the line at offering extra chances. Since Alabama is admitting Taylor to school, someone owes the school’s female student population in particular a more detailed explanation beyond the official statement above. What exactly did Taylor do at Georgia? Why did he do it? Why does he deserve another chance at Alabama?”
  • Bleacher Report’s Marc Torrence: “But domestic violence is a different animal, especially in 2014 (and now 2015), where the issue is finally getting the serious attention it deserves. Allegedly choking and striking a female with a closed fist—a girlfriend literally half your size, who has placed a level of trust in you—is on a very different plane than getting in trouble for making mistakes while hanging around with the wrong crowd. And even from a purely football perspective, a perspective that should be far down the list of priorities to consider here, the move is a massive risk.”
  • The AJC’s Jeff Schultz: “Look, I have nothing personal against Taylor. I’m all for rehabilitation. But I also believe in making people feel the consequences of their actions, and I don’t think handing out athletic scholarships to two-time offenders who have felony assault charges pending qualifies as just giving a kid a second chance. Taylor’s attorney believes the charges will be reduced. Of course. That’s what attorneys do. But Saban isn’t picking Taylor off the street like a homeless man and giving him a cup of soup, even if that’s what he wants you to believe. He’s turning a blind eye to Taylor’s rap sheet because he can play football. ‘Choked. Struck with a closed fist. Scratches and red marks and bruises.’ Wonder if all that will be in Taylor’s media guide bio.”

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