I’ll admit it. I do not like Alabama football coach Nick Saban. I am a big Miami Dolphins fan and Saban was our coach for two years (2005-06). During that time, he wrecked the Dolphins and lost more games than he won (15-17). Then, to top it off, after publicly saying several times that he had no plans to leave the Dolphins, he did just that. In the dead of the night he packed up his bags and headed to Alabama to become its college football head coach.
I despise Saban. Period.
But now, I have found yet another reason to dislike Saban. And once again, despite publicly declaring he would never do something, he does just that thing.
In September 2020, Saban declared: “I’ve never endorsed a candidate, nor will I even endorse a candidate or get involved in politics in any way, shape or form. I don’t think that’s may place.”
Then, less than 2 years later, he very publicly enters the political fray by lending his support to two radical Democratic pieces of legislation: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both acts are terribly misnamed as all Americans already have the freedom to vote. Rather, these acts are merely a Democratic power grab designed to federalize all elections and remove common-sense state voting safeguards, such are requiring a person to show photo identification before casting a ballot.
Senate Democrats had two problems with passing the bill that combined both acts. First, while the Democrats control the Senate (even though the Senate is split 50-50, the Democrats have the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, who presides over the Senate), Republicans promised to use the filibuster rule to kill the bill. Under the filibuster rule, 60 votes (out of a 100) are needed to pass many measures and bills, including this combined voting rights bill. Since all 50 Republicans were opposed to the bill, they could successfully use the filibuster rule to kill it.
The second problem concerned the Democratic strategy to maneuver around the filibuster. Since the filibuster was merely a rule, it could be abolished with a simple majority vote. Thus, if the Democrats could get all 50 of its Senators to vote to abolish the filibuster rule, they could pass the voting rights bill with a mere 50 votes (plus the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President). There was just one major issue with this strategy: Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kristin Sinema (AZ) publicly stated that they would not vote to abolish the filibuster.
Enter Nick Saban.
Along with other sporting greats from West Virginia–namely, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, NBA Hall-of-Famer Jerry West, former NFL quarterback (and dad to current NFLer Andrew) Oliver Luck, and former NFL All-Pro linebacker Darryl Talley–Saban co-authored a letter to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin urging him to secure passage of the bill. While it did not specifically mention it, the letter was actually about getting Manchin to change his stance on the filibuster rule so the voting rights bill could pass. How do we know this? First, Manchin was already a co-sponsor of the Freedom to Vote Act and had previously announced his support for the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act. Second, the letter was sent to Manchin right before the key vote to abolish the filibuster rule.
In the letter, Saban et. al. specifically attacked the recent Republican-backed state laws designed to ensure greater voting integrity, such as requiring photo id to vote. The ironic thing is that solid Democratic States like Connecticut and Biden’s own Delaware have more restrictive voting laws than many Republican states. But no matter. In the letter, as reported by ESPN, Saban and company stated:
“In the last year, some 20 states have enacted dozens of laws that restrict voting access and allow local officials or state legislatures to interfere inappropriately with Federal election outcomes. Motivated by the unanticipated outcomes of recent close elections conducted with integrity, these state laws seek to secure partisan [read Republican] advantage by eliminating reliable practices with proven safeguards and substituting practices ripe for manipulation.”
Thus, the Democratic-power grab voting rights bill was needed:
“We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections. The Freedom to Vote Act, which you sponsored with Committee Chair Senator [Amy] Klobuchar and other colleagues, effectively addressed these goals. Now we also support your leadership in shaping legislation to secure our democracy by protecting election integrity, principled Presidential transitions and our national security during transitions.
As noted earlier, Manchin already supported both voting acts combined in the bill. He was just opposed to abolishing the filibuster rule.
Alas, unlike Saban, Senator Manchin kept his word and voted with all the Republicans to keep the filibuster rule. And as a result, the radical voting rights bill was effectively defeated as the necessary 60 senators did not support it.
Gotta love Nick Saban. Two years after he publicly declares that he would never enter the political arena, “Tricky Nick” does exactly that by brazenly entering into the most important political debate in the Senate this year… and on the side of the radical Democrats. As a resident now of Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the nation, most of Saban’s fellow citizens most likely would have advised him against writing the letter.
So Nick, to keep your Crimson fans happy, please try to keep your word for once and stay out of politics. Please don’t give me another reason to dislike you.