Context or not, Alabama football's Jermaine Burton must be held accountable by Nick Saban | Goodbread
Falsehoods, it's often said, can travel the world before the truth can get its shoes on. There are times when a lack of context can make fools of us all, and that happens nowhere more than on social media. Snippets of audio and video with a caption, presented as a complete story, so often tell only a small piece of the truth.
Then there are other times when more context isn't needed. That's where we are with Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton.
He reached out and made contact with Tennessee fan Emily Isaacs with his right arm on his way out of Neyland Stadium after the Crimson Tide's 52-49 loss, and that can't be excused. Isaacs posted the clip to TikTok, captioning it "Jermaine Burton smacking me in the head," and later confirmed to a media outlet that it was her in the video. She was among thousands of UT fans to storm the field in the aftermath of the Volunteers' thrilling upset. It's tough to make out much else from a far-away, low-quality video shot from the bleachers. But any missing context is only relevant to how severely Burton should be dealt with. What we know is enough to establish that he must be held to account.
We know Burton didn't reach out for some other reason and struck Isaacs by accident because if he had, Alabama coach Nick Saban wouldn't have described it as a disciplinary issue.
We know it was no incidental bump in a tight crowd because if the video is clear on anything, it's that Isaacs stepped to her left to avoid Burton, and he reached to his right to make contact.
There's no audio, but there's nothing Isaacs could have said to deserve it.
Was he attempting to knock a phone from her hand, as he appeared to do in another clip of the chaotic post-game scene? If he struck her in the head as alleged, intent doesn't matter much, either.
There's no evidence of injury that's been made public, we don't know Burton's story, and as of Wednesday, there's been no criminal complaint or charge filed. All that missing context might help inform Saban, or any other authority, on how to hold Burton accountable.
None of it, however, is relevant to whether he should be.
On the rebound
Six times now in the Nick Saban era, Mississippi State has found itself in the unenviable position of being Alabama football's rebound opponent coming off a regular-season loss. Such is the luck when SEC schedule-makers, more often than not, have installed the Bulldogs right behind LSU on the Crimson Tide's slate. This year, MSU fell after Tennessee on the schedule, but will catch Alabama after a loss just the same. And it will be the best Mississippi State team the Crimson Tide has faced in the after-loss position under Saban. At 5-2, Mike Leach's team is coming off a loss of its own, and will bring a pass offense to Tuscaloosa that's averaging 355 yards per game.
Matchup to watch
NFL scouts are high on Bulldogs CB Emmanuel Forbes, whose junior season is looking like a real money-maker for the Grenada, Mississippi, native. His five interceptions lead the SEC, and four of them have come in his last three games. He'll square off against any number of Alabama's outside receivers, and has the skill to blanket whomever he's assigned, and force Alabama QB Bryce Young to move on in his progression.
"He's a playmaker, on special teams too," Saban said. "The guy is a really good cover corner. Very aggressive, very instinctive."
Around the SEC
Five SEC teams are idle this week, including a much-deserved break for embattled Auburn coach Bryan Harsin. Take a vacation, coach. It can't go any worse than your last one. ... Things could get ugly on the ground Saturday for the LSU defense. Ole Miss comes to town with an SEC-best average of 271 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile LSU, usually no worse than solid against the run, is giving up 146 per game to rank just eighth in the league. ... SEC Spread Pick of the Week: Vanderbilt +14 at Missouri. Season: 6-1.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread