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Nick Saban denies Mike Pettine playbook accusation

Rusty Costanza/Associated Press
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is still in possession of a Jets playbook given to him by Rex Ryan.

The brushfire that Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine started about the New York Jets' playbook has officially spread to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Pettine suggested Alabama coach Nick Saban received the playbook from Jets coach Rex Ryan and provided it to his friend and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. That wouldn't be very sportsmanlike, given the two teams battle twice a year in the AFC East, nor would it be looked upon very favorably even within the tight-knit fraternity that is the football coaching business.

Only one problem -- it never happened.

An Alabama spokesperson told Saban never gave Belichick a Jets playbook. In fact, it's sitting on Saban's desk right now. So at least there's verification that Ryan gave it to Saban, not shocking given that the two are also friends, although the Saban-Belichick friendship is much more deeply-rooted. Ryan has been to the UA campus before to speak at Saban's annual coaching clinic, which routinely draws more than 1,000 high school coaches each spring.

Ryan didn't deny sharing anything with Saban, but he certainly took aim at the notion that a playbook in the wrong hands could have any lasting value.

"There's not one thing ... every year your book changes. And the way you play things every single year is different," Ryan said in a press conference. "We will be way different this year than we were ... each year. I promise you, it's different because what we do, we do a lot of things that's based on our talent, you know, based on the skill level of our players."

Earlier Thursday, Ryan left no doubt about his displeasure with Pettine's accusation.

"I don't think that's a fair assessment of Nick Saban, of who Nick Saban is," Ryan said, adding evidence that his relationship with Pettine is strained.

Belichick left little doubt.

"You've got to talk to Mike Pettine," Belichick told The Boston Globe. "I don't know."

It's quickly beginning to sound as though Pettine doesn't know, either.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.



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