Nick Saban’s Rose Bowl press conference was held on Monday, and at least one media member was unhappy with how it played out.
Not because of anything Saban said or did, but rather with the fact one of reporters on the call addressed the Alabama head coach as “Saban.” This drew the disapproval of Birmingham TV anchor Rick Karle.
On Twitter and in a lengthy Facebook post, Karle advocated for all of his fellow media members to call the Tide leader “Coach Saban” when addressing him, as opposed to calling him Nick.
“Some reporters call the coach “Nick” in hopes that the coach perceives himself and the reporter on equal footing,” Karle wrote. “The problem? The footing is not equal. Nick Saban is Nick Saban. We are not.
“Who, in my eyes, can call Coach Saban “Nick?” [His wife] Miss Terry can. Lifelong friends can. His current assistants can. Perhaps a few in the media world can call him “Nick”: Chris Lowe, perhaps Finebaum or Rece Davis or Tom Rinaldi. But the last time I checked, none of the above are any of us.”
His name is Coach Saban.
— Rick Karle WVTM 13 (@RickKarle) December 29, 2020
Now, to be honest, just referring to him as “Saban” on a call like that is a tad unprofessional. That’s way too colloquial for the man himself and the situation at hand.
However, requesting that everyone call him “Coach Saban” is a bit too far. Sure, not every media member, even local beat reporters, has a longstanding relationship with the coaches they cover. But that doesn’t mean they can’t refer to a coach by his or her first name.
The practice of refraining from addressing a coach as “Coach” isn’t always necessarily about trying to project equal footing. It’s simply about establishing a level of professionalism and making it clear that the coach isn’t going to receive any deferential treatment because of his status.