Alabama coach Nick Saban is no stranger to players jumping early to the NFL Draft. After all, if you coach and win at an ultra-high level, you're more likely than not going to develop players who prove their NFL worth before they exhaust their eligibility. Former Crimson Tide safety-turned 2018 draftee Ronnie Harrison was one of those players. After starting his sophomore and junior seasons in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Harrison jumped to the NFL one year early and was selected in the third round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Saban apparently doesn't think that move was the correct one for Harrison.
"If you're a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year -- I'm not going to say any names -- goes and starts for his team, so he's making third-round money, which is not that great," Saban said, according to 247Sports. "He'd be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more. So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they've got a guy that's going to play for that kind of money for three more years."
All it takes is one glance at last year's third round of the NFL Draft to figure out that he's referring to Harrison -- the only Alabama player selected in that particular spot. Harrison apparently noticed it, too, and commented on Saban's stance on Twitter Sunday morning.
Harrison is currently on Year 2 of a four-year deal that will pay him just over $3.38 million with the Jaguars. It isn't just Harrison defending himself either. Current FAU coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin (2014-16) presented a counter argument to Saban's opinion.
If 60 juniors got second and third round grades how would they all go in top 15 if they come back?Some come back and go in worse rounds than what their jr grades were. Love when kids leave and fulfill their dreams. What do u say if they get hurt and lose 💰? #facts #MattBarkley https://t.co/FNzHtxxhHe— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) April 8, 2019
How about Kiffin dropping basic math and logic to defend his former player? That's pretty impressive.
There's no doubt Saban has built a program that's allowed hundreds of players to live out their professional dreams; that's awesome, and a huge compliment to his ability to produce consistent results. But a former player who lived out his professional dreams through the program and a former assistant firing back is new ground for the best coach in college football.