Saban counters Burress: Nick Saban Plaxico Burress

Published: July 21, 2015

Saban counters Burress: Nick Saban Plaxico Burress, Alabama head coach Nick Saban often refrains from responding to criticism. After all, if he responded to all of it, he’d have little time for anything else. However, the Twitter rant that former New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress aired last week was enough to draw Saban out of his shell on Monday.

Burress posted a series of tweets last week that attacked Saban, who coached Burress at Michigan State, on a couple of fronts, including Saban’s advice to Burress about whether to enter the NFL draft after his junior season. Burress also accused the coach of being dishonest with the Michigan State team about whether he would leave to take another coaching job at the end of the 1999 season. After lauding Burress’ accomplishments and praising his former player’s career on Monday, Saban denied knowingly providing an incorrect draft projection.

“I’ve never knowingly told a player any information that I get, I get from someone else. And I can’t even remember the conversation,” Saban told ESPN. “I actually left Michigan State right after the Penn State game. I didn’t stay for the bowl game when I went to LSU and that (would have been) Plax’s senior year. We’re proud of what he’s been able to do and we’re happy to see him have as much success as he’s had.”

Saban told ESPN Radio later Monday morning that he’s “never ever knowingly or willingly not told the truth to any player.”

Burress’ criticism stemmed from a comment Saban made at SEC Media Days last week that has little to do with either of Burress’ points — Saban said he would like the NFL Draft Advisory Board to wait until players have completed their seasons, including bowl games, before providing feedback to underclassmen on their draft status.

Burress was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000. He wrote in his tweets that Saban advised him to return to MSU and didn’t believe he would be picked in the first round.

Saban’s long-standing policy is to advise players to turn pro if they are projected as a first-round pick, but advises most others, if not projected for the first round, to return to school. Draft projections aren’t always accurate, however, and Burress is only one example. Saban also advised cornerback Kareem Jackson to stay in college prior to the 2009 draft because he did not have a first-round projection, but Jackson turned pro anyway and was chosen No. 20 overall by the Houston Texans.

As for whether Saban told Michigan State players he was not leaving for LSU the day before he did exactly that, Saban didn’t directly address that point.

But it does have a familiar ring to it.

Saban told Miami Dolphins reporters that he would not be taking the Alabama job after the 2006 season, something Saban has since admitted he did not handle well.

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