Saban denies offering ex-Ohio State assistant Zach Smith job

Urban Meyer

FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2016, file photo, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, right, and assistant coach Zach Smith, left, gesture from the sideline during the team’s NCAA college football game against Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Meyer encouraged Smith to stay with the Buckeyes in January 2018 after the then-assistant coach was pursued by Alabama, according to texts messages from Meyer to Smith.
On Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, Ohio State released thousands of pages of heavily redacted texts and email that were part of an external investigation conducted last August into Meyer’s handling of Smith and what he knew about allegations of domestic violence made by Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of last season by Ohio State after the investigation. After the season he retired at 54, citing health concerns. He is now working as an analyst with Fox Sports. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama coach Nick Saban denies offering a job to ex-Ohio State assistant Zach Smith last year, citing the results of a background check as the reason.

The Crimson Tide’s connection with Smith surfaced with the release Friday of former Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer’s texts and emails by Ohio State after an external investigation into what he knew about allegations of domestic violence made by Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney Smith.

Meyer fired Smith in July 2018. Months earlier, Saban talked to Smith about a job, although accounts differ about whether an offer was extended.

“We talk to a lot of coaches about a lot of things,” Saban said Saturday at the Tide’s media day. “I really never did offer this guy a job. We did interview him and he did a nice job in the interview. But it’s when we did the background check, that we decided that it was a better opportunity to hire somebody else and that’s what we did.”

The receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator job went instead to Josh Gattis.

Ohio State investigated Meyer and suspended him for mishandling previous issues involving Smith. Meyer retired after the 2018 season.

Once Saban’s biggest SEC rival at Florida, Meyer wrote in two January 2018 texts, including one to Ohio State President Michael Drake, that Alabama had offered Smith an assistant coaching job. Meyer wrote Drake that Smith was among six members of his coaching staff offered other jobs.

Meyer also wrote that Alabama pursued four Ohio State assistants, including Smith, Greg Schiano, Kerry Coombs and Alex Grinch.

“I told him to stay and he turned it down,” Meyer wrote of Smith.

A text message from Smith to Meyer said: “They (the Tide) offered me the job and I wanted to sleep on it last night before deciding but it doesn’t feel right.”

It never got that far, according to Saban. He indicated it was a case of a coach using interest from another school as leverage with his employer.

“I think it’s pretty common that sometimes people that get interviewed someplace or someone calls and shows interest in them that…the way this profession works is that you go in and use that as leverage to try to improve your situation where you are now,” Saban said.

On Saturday, Alabama held its media and fan day with an open practice at Bryant Denny Stadium. A notable absence was linebacker Eyabi Anoma.

The former five-star recruit has been dismissed from school, Saban said. He declined to elaborate on the reason.

“The guy was dismissed from school, and that’s really all I can say about it,” Saban said.

Anoma was the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. He had nine tackles in 12 games last season, including two for a loss.


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