Nick Saban is all in on the new rule in college football allowing the clock to run after first downs, telling Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger as much in an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Part of the reason, Saban explains, is that he comes from a different era of the sport. “I’m kind of for the first down thing, but I’m an old NFL guy,” he told Dellenger.
In the same breath, Saban did condemn a rule that didn’t pass that would’ve had the clock run after an incomplete pass once the ball is spotted. “I’m not quite as in favor of the incomplete pass,” he said. You throw a pass 50 yards down the field, it takes people time to get back, and now the clock is running?”
The Alabama coach seemingly hinted at further rule changes to limit no-huddle offenses. “When a team can snap the ball within seven seconds of the [play] clock, is that really good for player safety?” he asked. “I’m just asking the question. When you are on the defensive side, you can’t even change personnel.”
Nick Saban Sees NIL as Harmful to Players in Certain Cases
Saban called into question the intentions of NIL collectives in recruiting players — particularly wondering if NIL in general is swaying kids away from the meaning of attending college in the first place.
“The issue is, when you create those [collectives] for people, are you establishing a pay-for-play type of environment that can be used in recruiting?” he asked. “So now, all the sudden, guys are not going to school where they can create the most value for their future. Guys are going to school where they can make the most money.”
The Alabama coach is cynical that players even benefit from modern recruiting in the long run. “I don’t think that is even the best thing for the player,” he said. “You went to college. I went to college. Why were we going? We had goals and aspirations for how we wanted to create value for our future. Sometimes these things can be a distraction academically as well as athletically.”
Despite those comments, Saban still said he thinks NIL is good for players, just not NIL collectives. “I think name, image and likeness is good for players,” he prefaced. “The whole concept of collectives is what has created this environment that we are in, and I’m not sure that anybody really had the insight or the vision to see that was going to happen.”
Nick Saban Wants Equity in NIL Deals
Saban condemned the inequity in the current NIL landscape. “One player should not be [earning] up here and another down here. It should be more equal.”
The 71-year-old sees player agents as one of the main issues that’s corrupting the system as it currently stands. “When you put these two things together—transfer whenever you want and the system we have now for name, image and likeness—you create a double-edged sword and you have people out there trying to get between the player and money who are trying to create a market.”
It makes him question the transfer portal. “Are you transferring to make more money, or are you transferring because it’s going to help you be more successful?” he rhetorically asked. “The combination of those two things have really made it tough.”