Saban doesn’t regret giving Taylor another chance

The Jonathan Taylor situation came up again during Nick Saban’s appearance at SEC media days, along with the subsequent SEC rule inspired by it. And after a somewhat meandering answer on the latter, Alabama’s coach had a direct answer on Taylor.

“I do not regret giving players opportunities,” Saban said of Taylor, who was given a scholarship at Alabama while felony domestic violence charges in Athens were still pending against him. “This is an opportunity that we gave a player that didn’t work. But in fairness to the player, he didn’t really get the kind of due process before he was judged as any person should. But it is what it is, we’ve all moved on, he was in zero tolerance, and therefore we moved on. We do not condone that kind of behavior in our program.”

Taylor’s situation became a flashpoint for domestic violence issues and how teams handle it, eventually leading to an SEC rule change. Last year Taylor, a defensive lineman, was dismissed by Georgia after the domestic violence charge, which stemmed from an altercation with his girlfriend. He spent the 2014 football season at a junior college, then joined Alabama in January.

Then Taylor was arrested in Tuscaloosa on another domestic violence charge. The woman in that case, not the same woman as the Athens case, recanted her story, and last week the Tuscaloosa charge was dropped against Taylor, who pled guilty to lesser misdemeanors. The Athens charges are still pending, as are misdemeanor theft by deception charges from an earlier case.

Saban was also asked what he thought about the new SEC rule, sponsored by Georgia, barring transfers who have been subject to charges of sexual violence or “serious misconduct.” It was spurred by the Taylor situation. Saban spoke out against the rule last month, but danced around it on Wednesday.

“First of all we don’t at all condone any kind of domestic violence, any kind of violent behavior toward women,” Saban said. “But I do think that this is an emotional issue that is very, very complicated. It’s against the law and we respect the law and we will continue to do things that respect the law and our organization. I think that we should create, because this is a complicated circumstance that we should be creating as many opportunities to try to solve this problem, and use this as an opportunity to try to solve this problem with young people, male and female alike, because this is an issue across the board with any emotional relationship.

“And I would be very supportive across the league if as a league or as an institution we did those types of things that we could better manage this in the future.”