Saban puts his foot in his mouth

Nick Saban -Photo courtesy of

Saban puts his foot in his mouth
May 26
06:46 2022

Last week, Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher and Alabama head football coach Nick Saban had a verbal back and forth about the ethics of recruiting in college football. I think both Saban and Fisher had valid points and it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming weeks. 

Here’s what happened and my thoughts on the situation …

From the video I saw, which was about a seven-minute clip, Nick Saban was on some sort of panel with ESPN, speaking about college football and the issue of NIL (name, image and likeness) came up. Saban was very open about his thoughts on NIL and what damage it could do to college football if not regulated properly.

“My concern is college football in general,” said Saban during the panel discussion. “I think a lot of us are concerned about that. A lot of people are concerned about what’s happening. People really want to understand what’s happening in college football. People want to understand why people are transferring schools and getting money to do it.”

When it comes to people being concerned about what’s happening with NIL, I think he’s correct. Some of these NIL deals don’t seem like they are totally legit, and there seems to be a lot of room for shady business deals. Now when it comes to kids transferring schools, I don’t totally agree with him on that. Because the coaches can resign and take whatever position they choose, then athletes should have similar power.  

I do feel that some of these kids that transfer are doing so not because they feel another school would be a better fit, but instead because they are not getting the amount of playing time they assumed they would. There probably should be more regulation on that because there are too many players in the transfer portal which negatively impacts high school players looking for a scholarship.

Saban continued with his thoughts on NIL saying, “It’s gotten completely out of control and not a sustainable model. It’s to the point where you’ve got these attorneys/agents calling collectives and saying, ‘Pay my player a hundred thousand dollars a year,’ and then they want their piece of that. They all want a cut.”

I don’t quite agree with Saban on this point either. I feel this is a sustainable model if the right regulations are put in place. The coaches, administration and schools have been profiting off of these players for decades and now the players are reaping the benefits.  

If Saban would have stopped there with his comments, I don’t think he would have made any headlines. However, Saban saved his most egregious comments for last and he ruffled a lot of feathers with this one. I personally felt he was wrong.

“We were second in recruiting last year, A&M was first,” Saban said.  “A&M bought every player on their team, made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player, but I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it.”

He didn’t stop there either. He touched on Jackson State and Travis Hunter as well.

“Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year who was a really good Division I player to come to their school. It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. No one did anything about it.”

Saban was wrong in both cases when he spoke about Texas A&M and Jackson State. How does he know what A&M and Jackson State did to recruit those kids to their respective schools? And let’s not act like boosters haven’t been paying players under the table for decades. There are hundreds of stories about players getting paid illegally and for Nick to try and single out just those two schools is rather low. Maybe he’s a little jealous that Alabama doesn’t have the stronghold on recruiting as they did in the past. Maybe NIL can level the playing field.

Saban quickly tried to reverse course by issuing an apology the next day, but the damage had been done.

“That was a mistake and I apologize for that part of it,” Saban said. “I really wasn’t saying that anyone did anything illegal in using name, image and likeness. I didn’t say that. That was something that was assumed by what I said, which is not really what I meant, nor was it what I said. There’s nothing illegal about doing this. It’s the system that allows you to do it, and that’s the issue that I have.”

The problem I have is Saban did say that Texas A&M “bought” every player in their recruiting class and that Jackson State “paid” a guy $1 million dollars. Those words are very clear in my book. The words “bought and paid” imply that some illegal activity went on to obtain these players and I am sure Saban is smart enough to recognize the power of the words he was using during that interview.  For him to come out and try to insult our intelligence is like a slap in the face, honestly.

Fisher did not wait long to give his response to the statements by Saban. Fisher fired back at Saban the next day with what seemed like more of a personal attack, rather than a denial of the claims made by Saban the day before.

“It’s despicable that we have to sit here at this level of ball and say these things to defend the people of this organization, the kids, 17-year-old kids and their families,” said Fisher. “It’s amazing. Some people think they’re God. Go dig into how ‘God’ did his deal. You may find out about a lot of things you don’t want to know.

“We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past or anybody that’s ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it. It’s despicable; it really is.”

Fisher did touch on if he broke any rules saying, “You’re taking shots at 17-year-old kids and their families that they broke state laws, that we bought every player in this group,” he said. “We never bought anybody. No rules were broken, nothing was done wrong. These families, it’s despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn’t get his way or things don’t go his way.”

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders also responded to the comments from Saban. Saban had to realize that there was going to be a big backlash from those statements, especially ones with no evidence to date.

“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban,” Sanders said in an interview with Andscape. “I’m sure he’s tried to call. We need to talk publicly – not privately. What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation.

“You can’t do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that. But he took a left when he should’ve stayed right. I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”

When speaking on Travis, Sanders said, “I don’t make a million. Travis ain’t built like that. Travis ain’t chasing a dollar. Travis is chasing greatness. Travis and his family don’t get down like that. They never came to us in search of the bag. They’re not built like that. This kid wants to be great. He wants my hands on him. He wants me to mold him. He wants me to be his navigational system through life. He wants to be that dude.”

I am glad that Sanders and Fisher were so quick to come out and not only defend their programs, but to also defend the players they recently recruited. I wish Saban would stop trying to be so self-righteous to make it seem like there isn’t illegal activity happening at a lot of the top programs. Everyone who is a sports fan is aware that under-the-table activity happens all the time.  

Let’s see if anything else comes of this.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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