Saban won't condone Fanning's vicious hit

Alabama's LaMichael Fanning drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and had to write a letter of apology after this tackle against Missouri. Denny Medley/US Presswire

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- LaMichael Fanning's body slam on a Missouri running back had the look of a pro wrestling maneuver, grabbing him by the chest and flipping him over his head.

The move from Alabama's redshirt defensive lineman drew awes from the crowd and boos from commentators. Officials threw a flag on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct and there has been no word from the SEC offices whether the play would merit a suspension.

The move was over the top, UA coach Nick Saban said on Monday.

"This is a young player who's excited about getting in the game who makes a very, very poor decision and judgment on making that play," he said. "It's something we don't condone here. It's not how we want our players to play."

Fanning was not made available to the media. Saban said he had Fanning write a letter of apology to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and the player he slammed to the turf, Russell Hansbrough, who was not injured on the play.

"He understands that what he did was not done in the right way in terms of being a strong competitor," Saban said, "and we are managing internally things for him to do to make better choices and decisions in the future.

"With our young people, when they make mistakes, that's what you really want to try to do."

Alabama senior safety Robert Lester said Fanning's play was a matter of being overly aggressive.

"When you're tackling a small guy like that you can pretty much tackle him any way you want," Lester said. "He took advantage of it."

Injury update

Alabama starting quarterback AJ McCarron was scheduled to practice on Monday, Saban said. The junior from Mobile, Ala., had to be helped off the field in Columbia, Mo., after suffering what Saban called a "bruised knee."

"He's still sore," Saban said. "He will try to do some things in practice today."

Saban added that wide receiver and return specialist Christion Jones is day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Jones left the field late against Missouri with ice on his ankle.

With Jones injured, Alabama's depth at receiver will be further tested. Freshman Chris Black was lost for three to four months with a shoulder injury before the season ever started and starting receiver DeAndrew White will miss the remainder of the season recovering from knee surgery as well.

"We only have what we have," Saban said. "We don't have a waiver wire. We can't pick up anybody. I was trying to check for it on my desk this morning -- I couldn't find it. We have the players we have. We've lost quite a few players at that position, so it's going to create opportunities for other players to step up and play well."

Starting running back Eddie Lacy was dinged up on Saturday as well, bruising his hand against Missouri. It was noticeably swollen on Monday, but Lacy said it felt OK.

"It's all right," Lacy said of the injury. "It kept hitting helmets."


"I tried to fire myself this week," Saban said when asked about accepting the blame for the Tide's letdown following a 40-minute lightning delay in Columbia.

Saban said everyone "had the right look in their eyes" during the break but the team didn't play with the same energy when they returned to the field.

"It's a combination of things," he said. "I'm responsible for it. I need to do a better job of it. If you have any ideas what I can do to myself, I'd be glad to do it. I feel bad about it."