Nick Saban, the football coach of the University of Alabama, is an enormously popular figure in his state. His endorsement could mean the difference for a fledgling candidate - one like Dorothy Davidson, who is one of six candidates running for mayor of the Birmingham suburb of Bessemer.
So when word came down to Davidson campaign headquarters that the candidate had secured the coveted Saban endorsement, "everybody at the campaign headquarters started jumping up and down and celebrating," as the candidate told the New York Times. A photograph of Saban and Davidson was quickly turned into a flyer reading, "Nick Saban fully supports Dorothy 'Dot' Davidson, and thinks she would be an excellent mayor for the City of Bessemer."
Unfortunately for Davidson, that was news to the Crimson Tide coach, whose team won the national championship this year.
As the Birmingham News revealed, the photograph was a fake, as was the alleged endorsement; "Coach Saban has not been contacted for a political endorsement of any kind," Alabama Associate Athletics Director Jeff Purinton wrote in an e-mail wrote in an email to the newspaper.
Davidson first claimed the photograph was real, but acknowledged that couldn't be the case when presented with a 2007 photo of Saban and his wife that appears to have been the basis for the Photoshop job. (See both pictures above.)
Soon after, Davidson's campaign manager, Kevin Morris, said he had tricked the candidate into believing the endorsement was real. He said he had made the flier on the theory that "Damn, if we had an endorsement from Nick Saban, I bet it'd help," as he told the Times.
Morris insisted he had spoken to Saban on the golf course, and while the coach did not formally endorse Davidson, he did offer his support. He told the Birmingham News that Davidson believed that the endorsement was real because his father is a close friend of the coach.
Davidson is now worried that the scandal will cost her in Tuesday's election to become mayor of Bessemer, which has a population of 28,000.
She "didn't do anything wrong," insisted Morris, who stepped down from his voluntary position as Davidson's campaign manager yesterday.
"I pulled a fast one over on her," he told the Times. "That lady's so honest, man, I'm not kidding. I guess I'm not so honest."
CBS News chief Washington correspondent and CBS College Sports Network's Kaylee Hartung discussed this on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged." See video below.