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Saban Jimbo

What Do Nick Saban’s NIL Comments Really Mean?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 19, 2022
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It’s safe to assume University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban isn’t a fan of the new landscape of college recruiting that’s been heavily influenced by the name, image, and likeness rules. Quite possibly the most successful collegiate coach of all time, Saban has routinely spearheaded Alabama’s efforts to capture the top-ranked recruiting classes in the nation since he first took charge of the Crimson Tide in 2007. 

Alabama’s ability to lure the most impressive athletes in the country has become a regular occurrence under Saban’s leadership, largely due to the overwhelming success they’ve experienced throughout the previous two decades. NIL has somewhat leveled the playing field, and Saban didn’t mince words when recently asked to deliver his thoughts on the topic during Wednesday’s World Games Event in Birmingham.

“We were second in recruiting last year, Texas A&M was first,” Saban said. “Texas A&M bought every player on their team. They [all] made a deal for name, image, and likeness. We didn’t buy a single player. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it,” Saban concluded.

Saban’s nearly seven-minute answer on the troubles NIL has created for his program comes off as rather whiny. Saban continued to make controversial comments throughout his drawn-out statement, claiming that 25 Alabama players “combined” to earn a modest (?) $3 million in revenue as a result of NIL throughout the 2021 campaign. Saban later declared that several Alabama natives that have long dreamed about representing the Crimson Tide at the collegiate level have begun rethinking their impending decision as lucrative offers continue pouring in from programs that reside in geographically well-placed states. The situation leaves Saban no choice but to adjust to a constantly evolving landscape, despite his complaints.

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher responded to Saban’s claims on Thursday morning and his comments were ESPECIALLY SPICY. Fisher and the Aggies’ recruiting efforts were at the center of Saban’s lashed-out attack, and Fisher felt the need to directly address the situation. This is quickly turning into college football’s tastiest rivalry.

“There’s a reason I haven’t gone back to work for him. I don’t want to be associated with him,” Fisher said, directly responding to Saban. “I don’t cheat and I don’t lie. If I did [cheat or lie], my father slapped me upside the head. Maybe somebody should have slapped him [Saban].” 

Fisher continued by calling Saban a “narcissist” while saying he refuses to answer his phone calls.

There’s no denying that NIL has unexpectedly delivered a modest blow to Alabama’s recruiting efforts while bolstering the prospects of their rivals. Teams such as Texas, Texas A&M, and USC are examples of three programs that have used the newfound resources and temptations at their disposal to secure the services of additional high-ranked high school recruits and transfer portal entrees. All three programs have landed highly-touted transfers this summer alone. A program placed in a state such as Texas or California where opportunities for sponsorships are truly endless has benefited. They arguably have a better chance than ever before to lure players away from a traditionally more successful program such as Alabama, which doesn’t reside in a state known for its commercial opportunities.

The most likely outcome sees Saban and the Alabama program become more willing to engage with the opportunities NIL provides amateur athletes with. Winning national championships is undoubtedly the name of the game, and no moral compass supersedes on-field success. Despite being in a state not particularly known for its business-related opportunities, Saban and the Crimson Tide will likely find a more fruitful way to provide their athletes with the off-field financial opportunities today’s collegiate performers desire. The most successful program in college football will surely find a way to take advantage of the resources at their disposal.

And oh yeah, Alabama vs Texas A&M is currently scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. You may want to tune in.

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Justin Melo