Nick Saban has issued a stern warning over the way that Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation has been implemented in college football. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, the legendary Alabama coach said "I don't think what we're doing right now [with NIL] is a sustainable model."
"The concept of name, image and likeness was for players to be able to use their name, image and likeness to create opportunities for themselves. That's what it was," said Saban. "But that creates a situation where you can basically buy players. 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 also get players to get in the transfer portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get at your place."
Saban's comments come months after Alabama reeled in the nation's No. 2 recruiting class and signed three of the top nine highest-rated transfers in the nation, according to 247Sports. Last year, Saban revealed during the Texas High School Coaches Association that Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young had already approached 7-figures in NIL deals. However, Saban noted that he isn't interested in any direct payment from his school to players that would not be equal across the board.
Other coaches have made similar comments about NIL issues recently. Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin complained that his school can't match the "funding resources" of other universities that are funneling money to recruits. Many state laws have specific clauses preventing NIL as a recruiting inducement; however, states have not publicly intervened with their schools to prevent the practice.
The comments compare historically to statements Saban made of hurry up, no-huddle offenses in 2012 after the system spread across college football. "I just think there's got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?" Saban asked at the time, noting potential disadvantages for defenses and increased injury risks.
Nine years later, the Crimson Tide have produced back-to-back Heisman winners at wide receiver and quarterback. Alabama ran the most plays in the nation in both 2020 and 2021. Similarly, Saban told the AP that he plans to evolve with wherever NIL laws go.
"I know we have to adapt to that," said Saban. "You're going to have kids out there that say, 'Well, I can get a better deal going someplace else,' and they'll go there. But you're also going to have people that see the light and say, 'Yeah, they've got a good history of developing players. They got a good history of developing people, they got a great graduation rate and that value is more important.'
"And they're distributing money to everybody in the organization."