Nick Saban and Josh Rosen are both right: Mixing football and school is tough

Josh Rosen set the college football world ablaze this week, and who better than Alabama coach Nick Saban to set it out.

Or, maybe add fuel to it.

Rosen mentioned in an interview with Bleacher Report that, among other things, it's difficult to balance playing major college football and working toward a tough major.

"Look, football and school don't go together," Rosen told B/R's Matt Hayes. "They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way. Then there's the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have."

Saban responded during his media availability Thursday night, according to

"Is it difficult? Probably," he said. "Was it difficult for me? Absolutely. So, I don't think it's ever been more difficult. It's just never been easy. But I do think the reward of it all -- the lessons that are learned being part of a team, the lessons being a competitor in an environment like this or any college football program ... the lessons that you learn in life. I mean, how valuable can those things be?"

They're both right.

In fact, this whole controversy seems more like a "non-troversey" than anything else.

Rosen shouldn't be criticized for being high-maintenance, spoiled or speaking out of turn with an "uneducated comment." Rosen is exactly right. Playing football and balancing the quest to get a meaningful degree is a lot of work -- especially at good schools and especially for quarterbacks. Between weight training, film study, study hall, classes, training tables, treatment, it's hard to fit all of it in a 24-hour day. 

That's not news and it's not controversial. In fact, it's exactly why the NCAA has increased the attention given to the time demands major college athletics puts on student athletes. 

Rosen isn't slighting anybody else. He's not a single mother of four or a man with three jobs trying to make ends meet. His perspective, at least right now, is as a college football player trying to balance working toward his degree and a potential NFL future. That's a good problem to have, but it's still incredibly challenging. 

Saban is right too, balancing the two sides was harder back in his day, when two-a-days were the norm, academic resources weren't as readily available to student-athletes and information technology wasn't close to where it is today. 

Rosen isn't a pariah, spoiled or controversial. He's honest. For that, he should be commended. We don't get brutal honesty from college players (or coaches) in this day and age of increased attention.

Saban is right too. It was harder back in the day.

Good for both for speaking out and putting the strain -- and benefits -- to playing college football in proper perspective. 

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, while also hosting on ESPNU on SiriusXM Radio channel 84, the... Full Bio

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