In the last week Alabama head coach Nick Saban has accused two different college coaches of using the NIL deal (name, image and likeness) to buy players. Well, isn't that what the deal was created for? And didn't Saban himself use the NIL deal to sign quarterback Bryce Young last summer? Of course he did and going into the 2022 season, he is obviously not afraid to make enemies.
First, he said Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher had "bought every player on the team." He then stated that the NIL deal was "completely out of control." Next he accused Deion Sanders and Jackson State of paying seven figures for his recent five-star recruit, Travis Hunter Jr.
Saban's salary of $9 million a year is more than Jackson State's entire athletic budget.
Wow! Fisher answered Saban's claim by saying, "Some people think they're God," calling him a "narcissist." Then Sanders fired off a warning to Coach Saban saying,"They forget I know who's been bringing the bag and dropping it off."
All those accusations and responses have fueled one of the biggest feuds in recent memory - one that will peak when Alabama and Texas A&M meet on October 8th in Tuscaloosa. Both schools are a cinch to be ranked in the top five nationally when the official polls come out so this feud means nothing to the "hype" around the contest. It will be as big as it could possibly get without coaches feuding. Of course, it could lose some of its luster if one or both teams lose a game before they play.
One college assistant coach who shall remain anonymous said that Saban was trying to sound the alarm regarding the NIL fiasco. We all know that college teams have been paying players for decades. A few get caught because they don't cover their tracks, or the useless NCAA looks the other way. I'm not accusing Alabama or any other school of paying players. My concerns are more of a general nature. The way the current NIL deal is set up, it will eventually be detrimental to college athletics, forming a "Minor League" football situation. College athletic teams have been a farm system for professional sports for a long, long time.
Coach Nick Saban is now 70 years old, yet other than that April Fools' day prank he pulled last month, he doesn't plan on stepping down anytime soon. When you reach the age of 70, you sometimes say or do, weird and stupid things. At least that's what my family tells me.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org