Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Nick Saban, the mercenary, takes in ex-Bulldog Jonathan Taylor


After Alabama admitted a football player who was kicked out of Georgia and has felony assault charges hanging over his head, school spokesperson Deborah Lane released the following statement:

"Jonathan Taylor was admitted to The University of Alabama following the same procedures that the UA Admissions office uses to evaluate any student who has dealt with legal issues. ... Athletics is not involved in the admissions process."

I think there was more after, "Athletics is not involved in the admissions process," but I fell off my chair.

In case you missed this: Jonathan Taylor is a 6-4, 350-pound nose guard. He was dismissed by Georgia coach Mark Richt in July after being arrested for aggravated assault and domestic violence. According to reporting from our Chip Towers at the time of the arrest: Taylor was arrested July 22 at 4:45 a.m. by UGA Police after a third-party complaint that he physically assaulted his girlfriend during a domestic dispute at McWhorter Hall dormitory.

Police said evidence and witness accounts indicate 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.

"Choked."

"Struck with a closed fist."

"Scratches" and "red marks" and "bruises."

Oh, these kids. It's all part of the natural maturation process, I'm sure.

No worries. Here's comes Alabama coach Nick Saban, running a play out of the, "Disingenuous Second Chance Playbook." That's what coaches do, you know. They save souls.

Taylor was already on notice at Georgia for his involvement with a check-cashing scheme when the assault charges came down, so coach Mark Richt had no choice but to dismiss him. Taylor spent a year at a community college in Mississippi and he just enrolled at Alabama.

Why did Saban take Taylor? Because he's a mercenary like many big time college football coaches.

It's remarkable, even for Saban and Alabama, that they would take this leap on a player at a time when the sensitivity about domestic violence is at an all-time high.

Saban hasn't spoken on the subject. He's letting a poor school spokesperson and a puppet athletic director comment on his behalf.

Quoth the puppet, Bill Battle, to AL.com: "In this particular situation, we thoroughly investigated numerous sources regarding the young man. I had extensive discussions with several people who have been very close to him, including a lengthy visit with this young man. Our coaches and I feel he is worthy of a second chance at completing his college football career at this level, and that he fully understands the position in which he has placed himself."

I particularly like the two references to "young man." It puts Taylor in the same category as your average Eagle Scout.

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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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.