Nick Saban had a guest speaker visit Tuscaloosa this week ahead of the Crimson Tide’s 2023 football season. Alabama players listened to former MLB player and manager Pete Rose talk about the dangers of gambling.
The appearance comes following a number of sports betting scandals linked to both university coaches and former players.
This past spring, UA baseball coach Brad Bohannon was fired for his ties to a bettor that placed wagers on Crimson Tide games. His connection to the gambler was gathered through encrypted text messages sent prior to a baseball matchup between Alabama and LSU.
Bohannon was in direct contact with a man named Bert Neff, who was attempting to place a sizable bet on the Tigers to win a Friday night contest. Alabama scratched their starting pitcher shortly before first pitch in a game LSU would win, 8-6.
Those bets were never placed as the wager amounts far exceeded the sportsbook’s maximum limit for college baseball. Growing suspicious of Neff’s activity, an investigation was opened.
That investigation led to Bohannon’s firing in May.
The firing sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world, but it wasn’t the only gambling scandal with links to the school. Former Crimson Tide wideouts Calvin Ridley and Jameson Williams have each received suspensions from the NFL after placing sports wagers.
Ridley’s infraction was linked back to the 2021 season as he’d used a gambling app during his football hiatus. Ridley was away from the team and focusing on his mental health issues at the time those bets were placed.
Still, he received a year-long suspension from the NFL.
While Ridley claims to have won $36,000 on those wagers, his losses were far more substantial. The absence cost him a reported $11 million in salary, though he’s set to make his return to the field with the Jaguars this fall.
This past offseason, a second former Alabama pass catcher was caught gambling. First round pick Jameson Williams was slapped with a six-game suspension as part of a scandal that saw five Detroit Lions players receive punishment.
With sports betting being a hot topic at both the college and professional levels, Nick Saban opted to address it with his players.
Pete Rose speaks to the Alabama football team.
Rose flew into Tuscaloosa on Tuesday to talk about the dangers of gambling. The could-be Hall of Famer is maybe the most infamous bettor in the sports world.
✈️🏈 Thank you Coach Nick Saban for sending your personal Alabama jet to Houston and inviting Fiterman Sports and my Exclusive Client @PeteRose_14 to the University of Alabama. #RollTide #FitermanSports #UniversityofAlabama #Alabama pic.twitter.com/cZXG2mnxpH
— Fiterman Sports (@FitermanSports) August 8, 2023
Coach Saban flew Rose in on his personal jet as he hoped to stress the negative impact sports betting to his team.
Rose is the perfect case in point. The MLB’s all-time hits leader while playing with the Phillies, Reds, and Expos, he was later banned from baseball after placing wagers as Cincinnati’s manager.
He’s tried unsuccessfully to sway the league into reinstatement, yet he remains ineligible for the Hall of Fame.
On Tuesday, Rose sat down with Alabama players to talk about his experiences.
Thank you, Pete Rose for stopping by and talking with the team! pic.twitter.com/ViwqmWyX7m
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) August 9, 2023
“We try to get the best speakers that we possibly can that address issues that we’re facing in college football,” Saban said about his offseason list of speakers. “As well as people who can help create a mindset that’s going to help you be more consistent so that you can get the results that you want relative to the commitments that you make.”
While Rose certainly fits the mold as someone who performed at the highest level of his game while also having first-hand knowledge of the issues at hand, not everyone believed the guest appearance was the best look.
Baseball season: Get popped for massive gambling scandal where the HC has to quit
Football season: GIMME PETE ROSE TO TALK TO OUR TEAM https://t.co/y67xG0VZpy
— Barstool Bama (@BarstoolAlabama) August 9, 2023
Leave it to Alabama to have Pete Rose address the football team within months of firing their baseball coach for his role in a gambling scandal and a couple of NFL alumni being suspended! Never change, Tuscaloosa. https://t.co/0GGw2ZvvZ1
— Shanks (@Shanks205_) August 9, 2023
Quite ironic, to some.
“Like 10 thousand spoons…when all you neeeeeed is a knife.” https://t.co/jOTK8Sx7Jc
— Mike Gillespie (@MikeABCColumbia) August 9, 2023
After the baseball team’s betting scandal, Nick Saban had the opportunity to do the funniest thing ever… and he took it. https://t.co/oFOoGEMWgz
— Annie Moore (@AnyMoreSports) August 9, 2023
Alabama will hope to stay out of the headlines for off-field activity this fall. The Crimson Tide season opener is set for September 2nd against Middle Tennessee State.