Nick Saban Sounds Off On The Soul Of College Athletics, Again: ‘Is This What We Want College Football To Become?’

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MIRAMAR BEACH, Florida-Alabama head coach Nick Saban entered the theater room at the Hilton San Destin on Tuesday, looking ready for a discussion. After being told what to do over the past four days by his wife, Saban was ready to get back to his own agenda.

Not surprising, the topic of players becoming paid athletes by the schools was brought up again. There was a time years ago that Nick Saban asked a group of reporters in a room if this is what we want college football to become, I don’t think many thought we’d be this far in the weeds.

Every day that passes, college sports is becoming the twin of the NFL. From gambling to advertising, college football has turned into a professional outlet, even though they’d love to keep their amateur status. One by one, schools are changing the way they enforce gambling on campus and handling Name, Image, Likeness (NIL).

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban
Nick Saban

What was once the Wild Will West is beginning to taper off. Prices for players are starting to level, with some players not getting what the market once offered. In terms of this becoming a professionally run organization, NIL has turned into a problem some schools don’t know how to handled.

“Well, I would certainly agree that there are some challenges that the current situation that we’re in presents. In terms of amateur athletics, NIL is a good thing for players, they have a way to make money. But when it turns into pay-for-play then now you’re getting into a different area,” Saban said.

“I think when you start talking about player’s being employees, unions, now you’re getting paid for something, so now you have to pay tax. We probably invest $85-100K on every player that we have, whether it’s academic support, tutoring, programs, there’s a tremendous investment made in player development. Not only football wise, but academically, as well as personally.”

Nick Saban Looks Back At History To Prove His Point On SEC

He has said it before, and Tuesday he reiterated that phrase used in years past. Is this what we want college football to become? There’s no such thing as a level playing field in the SEC and Saban pretty much made that clear during his presser.

“So now you gotta start paying taxes on that, just cause you got a tutor, you gonna have to pay taxes? All of these things to me, I made this statement years ago and I got very criticized for it,” Saban noted. “Is this what we want college football to become?” So, now it’s kind of becoming that and I don’t think it’s gonna be a level playing field, because some people are showing a willingness to spend more than others. If you wanna bring the NFL into it, they have a salary cap, they have all the things that level the playing field.”

He has a solid point. If all of these players want a piece of the pie, a lot of guidelines will change in college athletics. These schools are offering them more than money, they’re offering them a chance at a career outside of football. When you look back at this same meeting from just four years ago, Saban called it.

Was this what we wanted college football to become? It’s a hard question, but I do think every player deserves to be paid, in some form or fashion.

Saban is trying to send out a warning signal to others, and I get it. We will see what the headcount is on the vote soon enough, but we already see a majority of the schools fighting. It will certainly take longer to reach any real conclusions.

SEC ADs had met in Rosemary three weeks ago, so I don’t imagine any earth-shattering news on Monday. The AD’s are here to represent the coaches, which should be entertaining to watch.

Nick Saban will do what’s best for his school and chances for a playoff berth, and I think some folks forget that. Just because he’s been around the longest, doesn’t mean he’s looking out for every team’s best interests.

He’s playing the game, just like every other coach in this league.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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