Alabama head coach Nick Saban is known for being a disciplinarian, which is why fans and analysts alike were surprised over what happened on the sideline during the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday night.
The sequence of events took place after Crimson Tide linebacker Mekhi Brown punched a Georgia player at the end of a play, which resulted in him getting hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Brown then made his way to the sideline, and soon after, began yelling at Alabama’s director of player personnel, Kerry Stevenson. Brown didn’t stop there, though, as he also lunged at Stevenson, which forced a teammate to restrain him. It was quite the sideline meltdown, and uncharacteristic of what we’re used to seeing from Alabama’s players.
Surprisingly, Brown did later re-enter the game in the fourth quarter, and he ended up making a clothesline tackle on Georgia’s Mecole Hardman, who was returning a kickoff after Andy Pappanastos drained a field goal to cut the lead to 20-13. The Crimson Tide later went on to win the game in overtime, 26-23, and Brown was lucky that his sideline meltdown didn’t cost the team a victory. Brown opened up about his actions to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports after the game, and was regretful of the way he acted on the sideline.
“I really felt like a jerk,” Brown said. “That’s not how I am. I wanted to win, that’s what it was. I did something stupid. I could have cost us the game.”
The Crimson Tide linebacker then spoke about re-entering the game and making the big tackle on Hardman, which appeared to fire his teammates up.
“You have to be mature,” Brown said. “I’m a grown man. I knew I had to make a big play to get my guys to wake up. That’s what I did. That’s definitely out of my character what I did.”
“I knew I had to keep my composure and poise,” Brown added. “I could have affected the whole team and I didn’t want to do that.”
Brown also stated that he was overcome with emotion after the game, and cried for five straight minutes. Lucky for him, those were tears of joy, rather than regret, with Alabama having emerged victorious. It will be interesting to see if the Crimson Tide linebacker escapes punishment from Saban over what he did during the game, since Alabama ended up winning. It can be expected that Brown will apologize to Stevenson, at the very least.