Nick Saban reflects on head coaches' responsibilities in wake of Ohio State scandal

Alabama football coach Nick Saban, photographed Aug. 4, was asked after Thursday's practice about the suspension of Ohio State counterpart Urban Meyer. / AP

Less than 24 hours after Ohio State suspended football coach Urban Meyer three games for his handling of domestic violence accusations against former Buckeyes assistant Zach Smith, Alabama's Nick Saban expressed confidence in the system that is in place in Tuscaloosa.

Saban and Meyer are college football's only active coaches with multiple national championships, with Saban, Meyer and Pop Warner the only three ever to win national titles at multiple schools.

"I think our administration does a great job," Saban said in a news conference after Thursday's practice. "We have a meeting with compliance every week. We have a reporting protocol, so if we have anything at all that happens, we know what the lines of reporting are and what gets documented. I have been really pleased with the system we have in place.

"These are things, as a head coach, that you're responsible for. Sometimes they're difficult to control, but even when you can't control them and you know about them, you should report them so they don't become a bigger issue in the process."

Meyer's suspension occurred after Ohio State conducted an independent investigation lasting more than two weeks. Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith also is serving a suspension that will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 16. Both suspensions are without pay, with Meyer missing Ohio State's games against Oregon State, Rutgers and TCU.

Saban and Meyer often are viewed as college football's top two coaches. Saban is 125-14 over the past decade with five national championships, while Meyer won two national titles during his six seasons at Florida (2005-10) and is 73-8 in his his six years in Columbus and won the inaugural College Football Playoff after the 2014 season.

Ohio State upset top-seeded Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal that season.

A decade ago, Meyer had Florida at the top of the Southeastern Conference, topping Saban's Tide 31-20 in the 2008 league championship and going on to win a second national title in three seasons. In 2009, however, Alabama routed Florida 32-13 in an SEC championship rematch that was followed hours later by Meyer being rushed to the hospital with chest pains.

Meyer announced a surprise resignation from Florida several days later before reconsidering and coaching the 2010 season. That was his last with the Gators, and it included a 31-6 humbling at Alabama.

Smith was a graduate assistant and a quality control coach under Meyer at Florida from 2005 to '09, and he spent six seasons under him as Ohio State's receivers coach before getting fired last month. Smith was accused of domestic abuse at each locale.

"We have a tremendous amount of compassion and empathy for anybody who is involved in any kind of abusive behavior, whether it's domestic violence or anything else," Saban said, "and we certainly want the people in our organization to feel comfortable and confident that they're going to be protected in every way possible.

"All of our people in the organization know they have the responsibility to make good choices and decisions, do what's right and respect the people they work with."

Tide tidbits

Saban said Alabama started preparing for opening foe Louisville on Thursday. Sophomore running back Najee Harris (foot) is scheduled to return to drills today. Saban said sophomore receiver Jerry Jeudy has had an "outstanding fall camp."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.