TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — No. 1 Alabama has had a string of stumbles off the field even though the Crimson Tide is still rolling inside the lines.
The Tide has had suspensions and separate reports of NCAA violations, including one that has sidelined starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Despite the potential distractions, Alabama (5-0) is still unbeaten and has faced only one close game — against No. 9 Texas A&M — in its bid for a third consecutive national title.
Off the field, it hasn't been all smooth sailing going back to the February arrests and subsequent dismissals of four players. The latest issue was last week's indefinite suspension of Clinton-Dix, a potential first-round NFL draft pick who reportedly accepted and repaid a short-term loan from assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris. Harris was placed on administrative leave.
Clinton-Dix was the ninth player suspended or dismissed for off-the-field issues since last season's win over Notre Dame in the BCS championship game.
"We just don't worry about it," Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said on Monday. "It's not affecting me as a person. It has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with anybody else. It's whoever it's going on with. Us as a team, we can't let anything like that affect us that we have no control over."
It didn't against overmatched Georgia State. Now, Alabama begins a five-game stretch of Southeastern Conference games with Saturday's visit to Kentucky, and Clinton-Dix's status remains up in the air.
The program that's won three national titles in four years has remained dominant on the field. With Clinton-Dix out, Alabama inserted another five-star recruit, Landon Collins, in his place.
But the Tide has received its share of negative attention and scrutiny. Coach Nick Saban said Alabama can't worry about outside perception of the program.
"I think that our concern is that we get our players to do the right things the right away all the time," Saban said. "If players are committed and doing the right things, we won't have those issues to be dealing with. But if it's not happening that way, I think the way to get it that way is to make sure everybody knows and understands that in this world we live in, there's consequences for every choice and decision that you make.
"Those consequences can be good or they can be bad, all relative to the choices that you make. I think that's true in life. I think it's true in any endeavor, including athletics."
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