QB's father says Barnes left Tide over Saban's treatment
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama quarterback Jimmy Barnes quit the team because he was unhappy with coach Nick Saban's treatment, not over lack of playing time, his father said.
"To be honest with you, it's the way [Saban] is treating kids," John Barnes told The Birmingham News in a story Thursday. "What Jim told Saban was he was not going to give up his dignity and be treated like that."
The longtime head coach at Los Alamitos High in southern California didn't elaborate, but said Saban's verbal treatment of players "just wore" on Barnes.
Saban, however, said John Barnes' comments came as "a shock to me."
"First of all, Jimmy didn't say that to me," he said. "I don't know of any circumstance that I treated any kid here -- or anybody in our program -- in a way that would affect their dignity."
To be honest with you, it's the way [Saban] is treating kids. What Jim told Saban was he was not going to give up his dignity and be treated like that.
Barnes was the Crimson Tide's No. 2 quarterback last fall, but was limited to non-contact drills in spring practice because of a knee injury. Freshman Greg McElroy spent the spring as John Parker Wilson's backup.
Saban said Barnes told him "he just made a personal decision to make a change, to go to a [Division] I-AA school."
"I told him we didn't really want him to leave," he said. "We would love to keep him in the program to develop."
Two of Barnes' former teammates disputed the characterization of Saban's treatment of the team.
"One thing he is really big about is treating people with respect," defensive end Wallace Gilberry said.
Wilson added that "respect is a big issue around here."
Barnes completed 6-of-11 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown against Florida International and also played six snaps against Louisiana-Monroe.
Barnes, who was recruited by former coach Mike Shula, hurt his knee during practice on Dec. 2, about a month before Saban's hiring.
"I don't know Jimmy very well," Saban said. "Because of his injury, he really didn't fully participate in spring practice and he wasn't able to fully participate in our offseason program. I feel like we didn't have a full body of work to make an evaluation."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press