Nick Saban: 'It's only an issue because they let it become an issue'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday July 13, 2017

Nick Saban isn’t happy about the new sideline rule for coaches, because he says it’s only because officials wouldn’t enforce their own rules.

SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said this week that a coach that steps onto the playing field to argue a call will immediately be hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty. Shaw also admitted officials were letting coaches get away with too much.

But Saban worries an official will try to make an example of someone now, just to make a point.

“I think it became an issue, but it became an issue because we let it become an issue,” he said on SEC Network. “If they’d just enforced the rule like it should have been before — there were lots of examples given that coaches should have gotten penalties. You go all the way out to the hashmarks to complain about something, or want to have a huddle, that’s a penalty.

“We didn’t necessarily need a new rule. We needed to address the rule we had.”

When Shaw announced the rule, I asked, would it actually be enforced? Will an official throw a flag on Saban the first time he does it? Will an official throw a flag in a big moment? Time will tell.

What scares me a little bit is, in the heat of the moment, the intensity on the sideline, the emotion involved in games from players, assistant coaches or head coaches, that somebody’s going to get a cheapie to make a point that never really should have been needed,” Saban said. “Because if we just enforced the rule we had, it would have been fine.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to