Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban started receiver Jermaine Burton on Saturday despite last week’s accusation that he gruffly pushed a female fan after the team’s loss to Tennessee.
After the Tide lost to the Volunteers, the winning university’s fans flooded the field. And it appeared that Burton was not at all amused.
Burton was caught on video walking toward a female fan and appearing to come into contact with her head as she neared him. In the video, the fan stumbles after the encounter, then turns to face the retreating player as if she is shocked that he put his hands on her.
Jermaine Burton smacking a girl in the head after the game pic.twitter.com/6DeqPYJ5WK
— Legends of Lindsey Nelson (@VolCreatures) October 18, 2022
Saban was fully aware of the video and the accusations, but ultimately he decided it wasn’t a big enough deal to punish the player for it.
“I don’t know how many of you have been in a situation like that. I talked to him. He was scared, I was scared, some of our other players were scared,” Saban said, according to Fox News. “I think you learn to respect other people because we have a responsibility to do that, regardless of the circumstance we’re in.”
This is embarrassing for Nick Saban. pic.twitter.com/57qmMHl1Ms
— Chad Withrow (@TheChadWithrow) October 23, 2022
“I talked to the guy. We have him in a counseling program. It’s not an anger management program, as some people announced today,” Saban added. “Nobody ever said that; that’s not the problem, that’s not the issue.”
“It’s about having the proper respect for other people. I didn’t think it was necessary to suspend the guy, so if you knew the whole story, maybe you wouldn’t either. But I am not gonna divulge that,” he concluded.
Saban also addressed the video on Wednesday, saying, “We certainly don’t condone any mistreatment of anybody, whether they should or shouldn’t be there. I think you’ve gotta have respect for other people.”
But Saban’s waiving away of Burton’s behavior from last week did not sit well with everyone.
If a fan on the field threatens a player or even could plausibly be threatening a player in any way, I have zero sympathy for what happens to that fan. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
But that wasn’t the case with Jermaine Burton. We all saw the video. Let’s be honest.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) October 23, 2022
Rucker added, “A player has to be suspended for that. He has to be. That’s an absolute no-doubter. There’s video evidence that can’t be refuted.”
Others were just as shocked at Saban’s dismissal of Burton’s actions:
To @espn and Nick Saban:
Jermaine Burton of Alabama was ANGRY. His team had just lost to a team that hadn’t beaten them in 15 years. His team had just given up the most points since anyone watching was born.
He wasn’t scared. He was ANGRY. And he took it out on a young woman.
— Xoom Global (@LegendsCigarCo) October 23, 2022
Tennessee wore blue on Saturday to honor women. Nick Saban let an Alabama player play in a game after striking a female.
Glad to say I’m a Tennessee fan https://t.co/wAB5jazZ6L
— Landon Raby (@lambo_raby10) October 23, 2022
This weekend, Alabama beat Mississippi State, 30-6, with Burton grabbing two receptions for 40 yards.