Nick Saban Throws Down The Gauntlet On NIL And Says Alabama Players Are Thriving

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ATLANTA- Who knows what the future holds for NIL in College Athletics, but Nick Saban continues to downplay the narrative that he doesn’t like the concept. He can say it a million times, but folks will still look at Saban as the guy who complained about the concept, while at the same time throwing Jimbo Fisher under the bus.

When Saban took to the stage in Birmingham a few months ago, he called out Fisher and Texas A&M for buying its entire recruiting class, which sent shockwaves around the industry. But it was the fact that the Alabama coach had been pretty tame about the topic that stood out the most. Remember, it was Saban who came out last season and proclaimed that Bryce Young had already made over seven figures using NIL, setting the stage for more questions.

“Well, I don’t dislike name, image and likeness. I’m all for the players. I want our players to do well. Our players made over $3 million in name, image and likeness. I’m all for the players being able to do as well as they can and use their name, image and likeness to create value for themselves.

“We have a great brand at Alabama, so players are certainly — their value there is going to be enhanced because of the value that our brand can help them create,” Saban added.

We are in a stage of NIL where inducements have become a part of the story when it comes to recruiting and it’s hard to narrow down a way to wrangle it in, without federal legislation. But that didn’t stop Saban from calling out the inducements conversation.

‘There are a lot of people on the recruiting trail using NIL as an inducements’ “A lot of people are making promises they may or may not be able to keep”

Yes, we are seeing some schools privately offer a good chunk of money for these players to sign, including Miami mega booster John Ruiz. But the war for players is just getting started and won’t die down any time soon, so let the bidding wars continue. Having a way to protect the players should come with a high priority as well, something Saban discussed.

As for what Nick Saban is looking at with the current model, it boils down to trying to keep his players at a distance from them and the folks trying to get a piece of the pie.

“But the thing that I have sort of expressed, not concerns about, but there’s got to be some uniformity and protocol of how name, image and likeness is implemented. I think there’s probably a couple factors that are important in that. How does this impact competitive balance in college athletics? And is there transparency to maintain fairness across the board in terms of college athletics? How do we protect the players? Because there’s more and more people that are trying to get between the player and the money.”

We all understand the ways in which this game of NIL is playing out and to think Alabama is staying away from it would be naive. It all comes down to how you handle the mess that might come with a player getting a brand new car or high-dollar contract. It most certainly has moved away from the cookie cutter deals that we witnessed on campuses last season and maybe it gets back to that point once the season begins. But what we’re seeing now is 17-18 year old young men trying to navigate through a nice chunk of money and the promises that certain schools are making.

Nick Saban made a comment last year that set things off at Alabama, and whether he likes it or not, this formula of NIL isn’t going away anytime soon.



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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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  1. The situation now at USC with the Pitt WR saying NIL “promises” that were made to get him to transfer are not being fulfilled will become more common. ….. These kids are not as intellectually talented as they are physically talented. They CAN be flimflammed – OR – they can try to extort more $$$ from the new school. Both scenarios will be prevalent.
    Once “it’s all about the $$$” then “It’s all about the $$$”….

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