Bill Belichick's reputation is well-known a long way from New England.
All the way, in fact, to Tuscaloosa, Ala.
That's why when Alabama coach Nick Saban told a reporter Thursday, "Do you want me to do a Belichick on you?," his meaning was crystal clear.
Not exactly known for his own congeniality with the media, Saban began his opening news conference of fall camp by trying to preempt questions about defensive back Maurice Smith's efforts to transfer to Georgia, and the controversy that has followed it. Saban declined to waive an SEC rule that would otherwise prevent Smith from playing at UGA this fall. The controversy is rooted in the fact that earlier in the offseason, Alabama permitted wide receiver Chris Black to leave for Missouri.
Different circumstances, Alabama claimed in a release Thursday, and Saban cited the release in his opening remarks before telling reporters he wouldn't comment further on the matter. Of course, unpacking the story requires a lot more than what the release provided, particularly after Smith alleged in a letter that personal belongings in his Alabama locker were trashed. So naturally, when pressed further on the subject of Smith's transfer, Saban was a bit terse.
"I already talked about that. I mean, do you want me to do a Belichick on you?" he said. "What did I just say? I already answered it. Nothing has changed. So now you're asking me a hypothetical question of 'what if?' I've got enough issues and problems without any what ifs. We just had a media person in here yesterday and she said 'Never answer a what if.'"
So, what if they'd never worked together?
Against the advice of Saban's media consultant, we'll guess the Crimson Tide coach would be just as hard to deal with, anyway.