University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has never hesitated to speak his mind when it comes to matters of the college football world. He has that privilege given his premier status as one of, if not the, greatest head coach the sport has ever seen. He'll never be short of accolades just like he'll never be short of wavering opinions. Saban's latest perspective on the uncertain future of the sport, particularly regarding the impact of NIL regulations, encapsulates a profound irony that is hard to overlook.
“I don’t think it's going to be a level playing field because some people are showing a willingness to spend more than others, where if you want to bring the NFL into it, they have a salary cap. They have all the things that level the playing field. And we could put guidelines on some of this stuff that would do the same thing.” said Saban while at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, FL.
While some coaches are embracing this newfound religion of college athletics, hoping they can regain some sort of foothold alongside the group of the elite, others are adamantly disapproving of the ideology, including Saban. Coaches are now attempting to rebuild not just their teams but their cultures with the likes of NIL. While it's likely to still side with the prominent bunch as it always has later on, for now, the little guys are taking advantage, causing disruption among the college football elite.
For those who are vehemently trying to disregard this new way of the world, claiming the ways of old are what work, they're seeing their worst fears coming true and being left behind.
While this new world is certainly not perfect, at least, in its own unique way, it's just as screwed up as the last one.
At least now when some kid is getting paid, there's a good loophole instead of rigid restriction that's followed by lengthy sanctions. At least now transactions can take place above the table instead of under it, making the lies being told about may sound a little less foolish. The only foolishness now resides in the comments being made by coaches, like Saban, who are rebuking those stripping him and others of their greatest advantages.
Saban and his Alabama squads have monopolized the college football landscape for the past 15 years. With his .878 winning percentage, Saban has won six national championships while at Alabama. In the College Football Playoff era, which started in 2014, Alabama has only missed playing in the playoff twice. Needless to say, if any other team has competed for or won a national championship in that time, they've gone through Saban and Alabama. Of course, Saban has done this by signing elite recruiting classes that were often the number one in the country.
College football has always lacked parity. Saban has been one of the catalysts behind its lacking parity. If he really wanted parity within the sport, he should have taken less highly rated recruits, leaving some for the lesser schools. But no, he didn't have a Jerry Maguire epiphany as such and instead became the biggest capitalist in college sports.
“I think the big mistake that people make is college athletics is not a business. People say it's a business. It’s not a business. It’s revenue-producing,” continued Saban.
The reason college football is a business today is because of Nick Saban. His impact on the sport has caused a never-ending ripple effect in change where it has evolved from mere college athletics into college corporations. While Saban's legacy is undoubtedly associated with his remarkable success as a winner, his role as an inspirer should not be overlooked. His groundbreaking achievements at Alabama have sparked unparalleled innovation and triggered a wave of emulation, leading to modifications in the sport's rules as others strive to compete against his unparalleled accomplishments.