Alabama defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand will likely be available for the team’s Week 1 game vs. Florida State.
Tide coach Nick Saban said Thursday afternoon that Hand won’t be suspended following his DUI arrest pending the completion of internal discipline requirements. Hand was found asleep at the wheel of his parked car early Saturday morning. While the car was on and so were the headlights, the car was in park in a parking lot.
The fact that Hand didn’t drive the car played a big reason in the decision for no suspension, according to Saban.
“If he’d have drove the car it’d be a totally different circumstance,” Saban said.
Saban explained his reasoning for not suspending Hand and it makes complete sense. He said Hand was admitted into a 48-hour inpatient treatment facility and will be required to do community service and a police ride-along.
The latter two requirements are typical of Alabama’s internal discipline process. If he satisfactorily meets all of the criteria set forth, Saban said there will be no suspension.
“Da’Shawn put himself in a bad situation, obviously made a mistake being where he was at the time,” Saban said. “But the fact that he didn’t drive the car — which is what we tell the players not to do. It was not OK that he was drinking with me and that’s a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed and we will address it. But the fact that he wasn’t driving the car and didn’t drive the car and put other people at risk, which to me is the most significant thing when you drive under the influence. But he didn’t drive — but [police] had every right to do what they did.
“So what we basically did is I have two choices. I can punish the guy for putting himself in a bad situation but making a pretty good decision after he put himself in that situation or we can take the situation he put himself in, which is drinking, and have him assessed for that and try to help him so he can make better choices and decisions in the future.”
Discipline including an inpatient assessment after a drinking-related arrest doesn’t sound like something a coach who wants to ensure a player’s availability for a big game would do, does it?
Yeah, it’s easy to think that Saban wanted to do everything he could to keep Hand available for what could end up being Alabama’s biggest game of the season. But nuance is necessary in this case.
If police had determined Hand had driven the car, a suspension would be totally justified — writers who cover Georgia quickly noted on Twitter that DUI is an automatic two-game suspension at the school. But it’s not at Alabama, and Saban is able to use that leeway to issue the appropriate punishment.
And in this case, it is appropriate. Hand shouldn’t face the same wrath as a player who drove a car under the influence. Yeah, Hand screwed up, but he hasn’t faced any public discipline from the program before. He deserves punishment that fits his crime.
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