Nick Saban apologizes for singleing out Texas A&M and Jackson State, says collectives are a real problem at NIL

Lights up less than 24 hours after ignition Offseason war of words in college football, Nick Saban tries to de-escalate a suddenly contentious situation. The Alabama coach who honored recruiting wins at Texas A&M and Jackson State on Wednesday night Examples of what is wrong with the new era of the name, image and likeness, retracted his remarks during an appearance Thursday on SiriusXM’s ESPNU radio.

“That was a mistake and I apologize for that part of it,” Saban said, clarifying that he wasn’t accusing Texas A&M or Jackson State of breaking any rules or laws by making NIL deals. “I really didn’t say anyone did anything illegal using names, likenesses and likenesses. I did not say that. That was assumed by what I said, which I didn’t really mean, nor was what I said. There’s nothing illegal about it. It’s the system that allows you and that’s the problem I have.

The 70-year-old seven-time national champion then went on to explain that with the advent of NIL and the rules that allow players to transfer once without pausing a season, he sees collectives as the key problem in college football’s current landscape. Collectives are non-profit third-party organizations formed independently of university oversight to facilitate NIL deals for players.

“I don’t think NIL in its original form or how people wanted it to be is really a problem,” Saban said. “I think collectives are the problem. I think one of the solutions would be if you have people who are representatives of your school giving money to a collective and then the collective turns around and gives it to the players on the team…then that collective should become a representative of the institution. And they shouldn’t be able to give money to the player, just like an alumnus can’t give money to a player.”

Regardless of how Saban chose to address his concerns about the current landscape of college football, it invited plenty of feedback. Fisher called a press conference Thursday morning to publicly fire back at Saban, calling his former boss a “narcissist‘ while Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork called the SEC offices. The league reprimanded later both Saban and Fisher for their public criticism of another school. Jackson State coach Deion Sanders took exception on Saban’s claim that the Tigers paid $1 million for top recruit Travis Hunter, calling the comments an outright “lie.”

Saban made it clear that he has no problem with alumni working with agents to provide marketing opportunities for athletes with their companies and brands. Rather, Saban has a problem with collectives paying money directly to players. Though Saban didn’t add fuel to the fire Thursday, there should still be plenty of excitement at the annual SEC spring meetings due later this month in Destin, Fla.

“People want to understand why people are moving schools and getting money for it,” Saban said. “I think it’s great that players can make money. But are you deciding where to make the most money? That’s the problem, and I’m not sure that’s good for collegiate athletics. I think that’s the big picture that we want that I want to focus on in Destin, that I want to focus on in Destin.” Nick Saban apologizes for singleing out Texas A&M and Jackson State, says collectives are a real problem at NIL

Justin Scacco

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