Saban: Current state of college football not ‘sustainable’

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ( Associated Press) — Nick Saban’s desire and often desire to be a catalyst for change in college football, both on and off the field, has propelled Alabama to six national championships in 13 seasons.

The 70-year-old coach is confident that his program will continue to flourish during this new era of college athletics, with players having more money-making opportunities than ever before and more power to determine where they play.

But Saban is concerned with the current state of college football.

“I don’t think what we’re doing right now is a sustainable model,” Saban told the Associated Press in a recent interview.

It’s a common theme among coaches these days, with Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Southern California’s Lincoln Riley echoing Saban’s sentiments. The combination of empowered athletes and easily accessible paydays is changing the way coaches go about their business.

Uncertainty comes with NCAA in weak position after Supreme Court defeat last year And in the midst of a dramatic restructuring. Schools and the NCAA themselves would prefer federal legislation to regulate how athletes are compensated for their names, images and likenesses, but when that might come and in what form is unknown.

This has raised concerns about large sums of money flowing into and around college athletics, including brazen entities called collectives put together by well-heeled donors whose donations have traditionally funded everything from lavish facilities to the multi-million-dollar purchases of coaches fired around the Power Five conventions.

“The concept of name, image and likeness was able to create opportunities for players for themselves to be able to use their name, image and likeness. It was what it was,” Saban said. “So last year our team But, our people probably made more or less than anyone in the country.”

Paying a player to attend a particular school is still a violation of NCAA rules, but NCAA deals quickly became associated with recruiting—both high school prospects and a growing number of college transfers.,

“But it creates a situation where you can basically buy players,” Saban said. “You can do it in recruiting. I mean, if that’s what we want college football to be, I don’t know. And you can even get players into the transfer portal to see if they’re in your place.” There is more to be found than the place to be found.”

Riley had told reporters last week that NIL had “completely changed” recruitment.

“I think anyone who cares about college football is not happy with it because that was not the intention,” Riley said in his first season in Southern California after five years in Oklahoma. “And I’m sure, at some point, if you will, the market is going to improve with recruitment.”

What exactly is happening with recruiting and voiding is difficult to know for certain because it is happening outside the purview of most schools and the NCAA is not obligated to publicly disclose deals between the parties.

A NIL contract drawn up for an unnamed blue-chip recruit could reportedly be worth up to $8 million. Earlier this year, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fischer was furious over rumors the Aggies had used millions. In zero money to sign the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruiting class for 2022.

Mississippi coach Len Kiffin is among those who worry about the recruiting conflict between coaches and excited boosters,

“I think that’s going to start giving donors and collective groups potential issues that they want Player A from their region. And the coaching staff wants Player B,” Kiffin told the Associated Press.

Swain told ESPN major college football that a “full blast” is needed, which could result in something that looks like professional football.

“I think you’ll have 40 or 50 teams and a commissioner and these are the rules,” he said.

Saban said he was not against compensation to players and more freedom to change teams.

“Now we have an NFL model with no contracts, but everyone has free agency,” Saban said, comparing Kiffin to that.

“It is okay for players to get money. I am all for this. I am not against it. But there must also be some responsibility on both ends, which you can call a contract. So that you have the opportunity to develop people in a way that is going to help them succeed,” Saban said.

Saban, the highest-paid coach in college football with a salary of about $10 million last season, said the balance of power in the sport may shift toward the schools with the wealthiest groups.

“So some changes are going to be implemented, to create some kind of still an even playing field,” he said. “And there is no salary limit. So whichever school decides they want to pay the most, they have the best chance of being the best team. And that’s never been college football.”

Saban would prefer that Alabama guarantee a certain amount of money for each player who plays football for the Crimson Tide.

“We provide equal medical care, educational support, food service to all. Same scholarship. So if we’re going to do that, everyone’s going to benefit equally. I am not going to create caste system in my team,” Saban said.

LSU coach Brian Kelly favors a similar model, in which players agree to sign some void rights to the school’s ability to help promote an individual’s brand, as well as a principal amount of compensation. Huh.,

“And we have the best NFTs,” Kelly added, referring to popular digital collectors’ items. “Who Can’t Sell Mike the Tiger”,

Saban isn’t worried about the changing landscape derailing his descent. At the start of last season, Alabama had more players on the NFL rosters (53) than any other school. Tide’s track record of personal and professional development should be attractive to top players, though perhaps not as much as it was before.

Saban is fine with that.

“I know we have to adapt to it,” Saban said. “You’re going to have kids out there who say, ‘Okay, I can go somewhere else and get a better deal,’ and they’ll go there. But you’ll also have people who look at the light and say, ‘ Yes, they’ve got a good history of developing players. They’ve got a good history of developing people, they’ve got a high graduation rate and that value is more important.’

“And they’re distributing the money to everyone in the organization.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com.

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More Associated Press College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

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