The memory of getting pranked in 1978 by Nick Saban is still fresh for Glen Mason.

I called Mason to ask him about a story on page 54 in Monte Burke’s “Saban: The Making of a Coach.”

The former Gophers coach, Big Ten Network analyst and weekly “Mase in Your Face” guest on KFAN told me he doesn’t remember talking to Burke, “but I’ve told the story a million times.”

Mason chatted pleasantly as I fished through highlighted pages in this enthralling book about life of the coach of college football’s reigning champions, Alabama, looking for the excerpt. Mason is noted seven times in the index.

“Nick was an assistant coach at West Virginia, and we both recruited the same area in east Ohio. He never beat me on guys but used to give me a run for my money,” Mason told me.

“It’s amazing. When Pete Carroll left our staff at Ohio State, I recommended to Earle Bruce [that we hire] Nick Saban because of the recruiting end of it. We hired him, and he was on staff for awhile.”

Most everybody to whom I have talked about this book has an unhappy memory about Saban’s only staying awhile.

Just before I found the excerpt in question, a vague thought popped into my head: Did you mislead Saban, telling him some guy was good when he wasn’t?

“Noooo,” said Mason, vividly. “He did that to me! One morning I was having breakfast with him and Randy Hart, who was [then] an assistant coach at Purdue. They started talking about this kid who was really good and was outside my recruiting area but just north of it. They started talking about this guy, how good he was, and I didn’t know who he was.”

When Saban asked Mason what he thought of the prospect, Mase didn’t say he didn’t know him; he just paid his tab and “drove straight to this little school in the sticks,” the book says.

“I walked in the high school,” Mason told me. “Coach said, Gee, surprised to see you here. I said, ‘Listen, I’m really on a tight schedule. I got to see Jimmy Jones or whatever the kid’s name was. He said, You want to see Jimmy Jones? I said, ‘Yeah.’ He brought him down. He’s an offensive linesman about 5-8, 190 pounds. Soon as I saw him I thought, ‘Those damn guys got me.’ ”

The Mason quote in the book is a little spicier, but what he said to me works here. “The impromptu stop caused Mason to be late for Ohio State’s practice and he subsequently was chewed out by Buckeye head coach Earle Bruce,” wrote Burke.

Thoroughly chewed out, Mason said, “I called them up, and they were laughing.”

Mason impressed me and many others as somebody who can get a laugh out of Saban, a renowned non-smiler.

“He laughed because he got me good,” laughed Mason.

‘War of Roses’ smells fake

Twitter’s @ProductPoet appears nervous about losing friends at KDWB as a result of his speculation that the “War of the Roses” segments are fake.

The radio bit about cheating partners produces lots of tweets and internet traffic, so it’s better if KD’s listeners believe it’s real. I’ll let @ProductPoet explain it more thoroughly, in this theproductpoet.com post:

“I love the ‘Dave Ryan in the Morning Show’ on KDWB, so if ‘War of The Roses’ is fake, I don’t care. If you follow me on Twitter (subtle hint to follow me here), you know that I interact with Dave Ryan, Falen Bonsett and occasionally Steve LaTart.”

ProductPoet explains that “War of The Roses” features an unsuspecting partner getting “telephoned, offered a survey to get free roses and then the partner gets to decide who to send the roses. Most times, this turns out bad for the unsuspecting partner … Although I love ‘Dave Ryan in the Morning’ show I had a strong suspicion that ‘War of The Roses’ is indeed just entertainment, especially since the partners didn’t have a noticeable Minnesota accent. Yah, you betcha. Ya know what I’m talkin’ ’bout.”

While Ryan won’t respond to me on Twitter, @tfly, self-proclaimed radio legend Tony Fly, afternoon show host on 105 The Vibe, said KD’s War is “100 [percent] fake. It’s illegal to air calls without the caller’s knowledge … If the calls were real, KDWB would be fined by the FCC.”

 

C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.