Nick Saban Calls Out Prospect And Transfer He Lost To NIL And NCAA Transfer Portal

Alabama football coach Nick Saban may have the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation, and he continues to do well in the NCAA Transfer Portal.

But that doesn't mean he likes the portal or what Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) is doing to recruiting.

Saban touched on both while speaking Thursday night at the 18th annual Alabama Football Coaches Association (ALFCA) convention at the Embassy Suites in downtown Montgomery.

During a question-and-answer session, someone asked about NIL's impact on recruiting.

"Someone with one of the best corners in the nation (in high school) came to me and asked if we'd pay them $800,000 for the player to sign here. I told him he can find another place to play," Saban said, according to Baker High School (Mobile) coach Steve Normand, who was there.

"I'm not paying a kid a bunch of NIL money before he earns it," Normand said Saban added.

"Yes, he did say that," Normand told OutKick on Saturday morning. "Coach Saban was talking about that and how there has to be more regulations with NIL and how the NCAA needs more ways and means to control it because it's getting out of hand."

A post on the website by a fan who regularly posts and was at Saban's appearance detailed what the Alabama coach said. WMSP-AM 740 of Montgomery radio hosts John Longshore and Barry McKnight discussed the post on their morning show on Friday.

OutKick then reached out to Alabama high school coaches who attended, including ALFCA president Terry Curtis, who is the coach at UMS-Wright in Mobile and a member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

Was Nick Saban Talking About Cormani McClain?

Saban did not say and players or schools by name, Normand and Curtis said.

But Alabama had been recruiting Cormani McClain, the No. 1 cornerback in the nation for the 2022-23 period out of Lakeland High in Lakeland, Florida. McClain first committed to the NIL-big spender University of Miami over Florida for reportedly a lucrative NIL deal. McClain changed his mind, though, de-committed to Miami and committed on Jan. 20 to Colorado and new coach Deion Sanders.

Saban lost No. 1 cornerback Travis Hunter of Suwanee, Georgia, last year to Sanders for a significant NIL deal when Sanders coached Jackson State. Hunter followed Sanders and transferred to Colorado recently.

When asked about the portal, Curtis confirmed that Saban said this: "We lost 10 players and one starter to the portal this year. One of them wanted $500,000 and for us to get his girlfriend into law school at Alabama and pay for it. I showed him the door."

Was Nick Saban Talking about Ex Left Guard Javion Cohen?

Saban did not name any of the players he lost. But Alabama did lose junior starting left guard Javion Cohen, who transferred last December to Miami, which does have a law school. Cohen, a four-star signee out of Phenix City, Alabama, in 2020, started regularly in 2021 and '22 for the Crimson Tide.

"He didn't say any names, but yep, he did talk about a kid who wanted to get his girlfriend into law school at Alabama and pay for it," Curtis said. "He was explaining that that tells you where this NIL and transfer portal are going. I thought he made an excellent point. It's crazy what some kids are asking for. Coach Saban was talking about how frustrating it is to deal with NIL and the portal and how there needs to be some more ground rules."

Normand also confirmed Saban's anecdote about a player asking him if Alabama could get his girlfriend into the law school and pay for it.


"He did mention that," Normand said. "I don't know for sure if that ever happened, but is that where we're going with the portal and the NIL?"

Current back-to-back national champion Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman, Auburn coach Hugh Freeze and Tennessee coach Josh Heupel were among the other speakers at the convention.

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Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.