Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron isn't sure the Crimson Tide has the necessary leadership on the offensive side of the ball.
But to coach Nick Saban, the key word in that sentence is "former."
"I don't know how AJ would really know, but I don't necessarily see that as the case," Saban said Wednesday when asked about McCarron's comments on Wednesday's SEC media teleconference.
Following Alabama's 23-17 loss to Ole Miss, McCarron questioned Alabama's leadership on Tide 99.1 FM's The Game Tuesday night, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
"I think one of the things that this team is lacking that hurts them the most is not having the true leaders like we had last year and guys that, when things go bad, 'Hey, let's calm everybody down, pick it back up and go back to work and get back on the right track'," McCarron said. "I feel like when things go bad, this team struggles a little with bouncing back and making good plays."
Saban praised the way Crimson Tide players have rallied behind new starter Blake Sims. Being a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals now, however, McCarron isn't exactly in a great position to know how the team's leadership is affecting other players, something Saban made clear enough.
"AJ McCarron, he needs to be quiet," Tarkenton told The Opening Drive on WJOX. "He was so fortunate to play in that program. He's an average quarterback at best. He couldn't have played anywhere else but Alabama and to make any kind of comment is just disrespectful."
It's not the first time McCarron has said things about Alabama football that have raised eyebrows, including Saban's, since his college career ended in January. McCarron told The Jim Rome Show that the team that lost its last two games and a chance at a third straight national championship last season had "too much success and a lot of young guys coming in who didn't know what it took to get back to that point to win. They thought we'd just show up and we'd win."
Replied Saban: "I think a senior player -- and I love AJ -- but I think a senior player has a responsibility as a leader on the team to understand that when younger players come into the program, they are not going to necessarily have all the right stuff or understand the right stuff to be a part of the team. ... It should not be something that upsets an older player. It should not be an issue with an older player because I can take some of these same older players and tell you about them when they were freshmen and they needed older players to help them get where they needed to be."
McCarron also made some offseason comments about playing hurt during his career which drew a response from Saban, as well.
On Tuesday, McCarron also questioned the Crimson Tide's use, or more specifically, overuse, of star wide receiver Amari Cooper.
McCarron's new bride, model Katherine Webb, took to Facebook to blame the media for taking McCarron's quotes out of context. At some point, however, the Bengals rookie will need to recognize his own role in how his remarks are portrayed.
Nobody is making them up.