“Geno Smith will be suspended for the first game,” Saban said Tuesday. “He’s got other things to do in house that if he does, he'll be OK to play after that. We never had an issue with Geno. He’s an excellent person. He’s never been in trouble here before, never been in my office for anything.”
Saban said Smith’s mistake should be a learning experience for other players.
“When you make a bad choice, sometimes the consequences of that choice can really have a negative affect,” Saban said. “Geno has been a really good person in the program. He just made a really bad choice, made several of them. Now he has consequences for it.”
Smith was at practice Tuesday, but did not work with the first-team defense.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Kevin Norwood and right guard Anthony Steen are all a part of Alabama’s leadership group.
Mosley said he hopes Smith’s suspension should resonate with the younger players.
“I hope so,” Mosley said. “That was a distraction that luckily happened before the season. We don’t want any distractions when the season comes. Hopefully he learns a lesson and everybody else can learn from it too.”
Norwood said he was really shocked when he heard the news of Smith’s arrest.
“Geno’s a great guy, he really is,” Norwood said. “I never heard anything negative about him to be honest. When I heard it, I was like wow. He knows that it’s a lesson learned and he has to learn from it pretty much.”
Steen said the team fully backed Saban’s decision to suspend Smith.
“We all sat down and focused on what would be best for the team,” Steen said. “What coach decided on, we basically told him it was up to him and that we would stand by his word.”
Smith spent much of preseason practice working as Alabama’s third cornerback in the “star” position. The Atlanta native had nine tackles, two pass breakups and two passes defended in 13 games as a true freshman.
Saban said while most see discipline as punishment, he views it as a way to help change a person’s behavior.
“When you take something away that’s important to somebody, that’s going to have an impact on changing their behavior,” Saban said. “That’s what we thought was appropriate in this situation. … We did it in the best interest of the player. Hopefully, this will be something that will help him make better decisions in the future.”
Smith was the first Alabama player to be arrested since February, when D.J. Pettway, Eddie Williams, Tyler Hayes and Brent Calloway were involved in multiple incidents of second-degree robbery and credit card fraud. They were eventually dismissed from the team.