Nick Saban Discusses NIL, Says ‘We Never Cheated’ In Recruiting

Alabama coach Nick Saban was a featured speaker at the Senior Bowl Summit in Mobile, Alabama on Tuesday night. During this speaking engagement, the topic of NIL was a main point of emphasis, and Saban said it has changed the landscape of college football.

He said that his program doesn’t use NIL to entice kids to attend Alabama.

“When we start using name, image and likeness for a kid to come to our school, that’s where I draw the line,” Saban said about NIL, via ESPN. “Because that’s not why we did this.”

Saban pointed out that high school athletes are now leveraging NIL deals between different schools, basing part of their decision on earnings. The only difference in where we are today is that it’s now legal for recruits to sign for money once they enter college.

Saban made it clear on Tuesday that he’s never cheated to sign a player.

“I hear these crazy people on TV who say, ‘Now, you’re doing it above board,'” he said. “We never did it. We never did it. We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school.

“And now that’s actually happening. People are making deals with high school players to go to their school.”

On Tuesday, Lane Kiffin also shared his thoughts on where the new NIL rules are leading college football. He pointed out that Name, Image, Likeness has essentially created free agency in college football, something that is a disadvantage for most teams.

“We don’t have the same funding and resources as some of these schools do for these NIL deals, so it’s basically like dealing with different salary caps. We now have a sport that has completely different salary caps. And some of these schools are, like, whatever, five to ten times more than what everybody else can pay the players. I know nobody uses those phrases, but that is what it is.”

We’ve heard this a lot over the past few months, with coaches saying that whichever school comes up with the best NIL deal — whether funded by alumni or others close to the program — will field the best team.

Over the next year, we will find out whether the Power Five conferences or the NCAA decided to do anything about some of the rules that need to be established. But for the time being, schools will continue to do everything they can — within the current rulebook — to land a player.

Let the NIL games continue.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.


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  1. If a kid commits for cash, he’s done. Once the cash is in hand, the motivation to succeed is gone.

    THAT is why college sports, traditionally, is so much better than Pro sports – they are fighting for it!

  2. I have to agree with you. I just don’t know the solution. I mean, you could try and “cap” the NIL but there will always be those outside influences that have been around forever. SMU was the guinea pig and you will never see another Death Penalty. The SEC just got more intense as I have to believe Saban and Kiffin were pointing there fingers west at Jimbo’s recruiting class.

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