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USC vs. Alabama: Cam Robinson, Hootie Jones Likely to Play

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) and linebacker Reuben Foster (10) celebrate after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) and linebacker Reuben Foster (10) celebrate after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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USC vs. Alabama is likely to feature Crimson Tide star Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones, who are being disciplined for gun and drug arrests, but are unlikely to face suspensions.

There was a big development for USC vs. Alabama Wednesday at SEC Media Days when Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban indicated that offensive tackle Cam Robinson and safety Lawrence “Hootie” Jones will likely avoid suspension for their offseason arrests.

“Cam Robinson and Hootie were not charged with anything,” Saban said, via CBS Sports. “I think the facts we have are a little different than sort of what was advertised. Both players have done a significant amount of things to change their behavior internally, whether it was police ride-around, whether it was community service, or juvenile groups that need positive role models and influence to make better choices and decisions.

“So we have viewed this as these guys do these changes to change their behavior and help these other people, and that is ongoing. If they continue to do that, that will be how this matter is handled internally.”

Back in May Robinson and Jones were arrested on felony weapons and misdemeanor drug charges after a police officer in Louisiana smelled marijuana near their car and found the drug as well as a stolen firearm inside.

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Those charges were dropped late last month, with the DA citing a desire not to “ruin the lives” of the hardworking football players, though lack of evidence and a potential improper search will have weighed heavily in that decision as well.

Shortly after the charges were dropped, KNOE 8 News in Louisiana acquired documents detailing the internal punishment doled out by Saban for the two players.

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That punishment includes weekly urine tests, drug counseling, mental health consultations, gun safety and ownership classes with a police officer and community service. Additionally, Robsinson was to complete 26 hours worth of ride alongs with police while Jones would spend 21 days in a drug rehab program.

At the time of that revelation both Robinson and Jones were under “indefinite suspension” but there were doubts as to whether or not that suspension would extend to include the match up with USC on September 3.

On Wednesday, Saban’s comments all but confirmed that the two players will play against the Trojans, assuming they stay out of trouble for the remainder of the offseason.

Robinson is considered one of the best offensive tackles in the country and is one of the most veteran members of Alabama’s offensive front. Jones is expected to be part of the Tide’s rotation at safety.

UPDATE: Paul Finebaum questioned Saban over his decision not to suspend Robinson and Jones against USC, with the head coach vehemently defending his position on the matter.

“I’m going to what’s right for the players and if the players really did anything that wrong, they would have been charged with something,” Saban said, complaining about how the two Alabama players were arrested but the two other non-football players in the car were not.

When pressed by Finebaum further, Saban continued to express frustration with the media and their criticism over his handling of the situation.

“Do we condone the behavior? No. But you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty in this country regardless if you get convicted in the media or not, which is what you’re doing to these players,” Saban said. “I’m not going to convict him in public. I was going to get criticized by you and the public and the media because I’m not going to suspend him and I don’t really care about that. That’s the end of the conversation.”

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