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Why Nick Saban Is So Angry

We all need to remember it’s not easy being Nick - and the last few weeks are just proof positive of that fact.

NCAA Football: Alabama Spring Game
Nick Saban upon finding out Jimbo’s new Lexus cost $128 more than his.
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

OPENING SHOTS FIRED BY COACH NICK

“I mean, we were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn’t buy one player, all right? But I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”

Let’s start by breaking this one down because the only correct thing Saban said there was they finished 2nd to the aTm in the national rankings. Beyond that?

  • Texas A&M didn’t buy anyone
  • Texas A&M didn’t make the NIL deals
  • Alabama didn’t either, but if Nick was trying to imply none of their players are receiving NIL money, that’s just basically a lie.
  • For Nick to imply Alabama boosters can’t keep up in an NIL money war may be the most ludicrous statement of the entire string of his rants/accusations/non-apologies.
Syndication: USA TODAY
Saban explodes off his tiptoes to graze 5’10” Jimbo Fisher’s chin.
Mickey Welsh / USA TODAY NETWORK

A QUICK HISTORY LESSON

For those die-hard fans of Alabama (or any other school) who truly want to believe their successful program has never stooped to providing anything more than a scholarship, room, board and food to their student-athletes?

(Okay, anyone that truly stupid should just click away from all of this right now.)

Just kidding - cash has been finding its way into their hands ever since they started selling tickets to fans who also bought food, drink and shirts. Read this excellent article on how it was done for years and whose time is likely coming to an end since these folks can now offer it over the table.

MEET THE BAGMAN: 10 RULES FOR PAYING COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS


OHIO STATE’S RYAN DAY HAS FACTS

A few weeks ago cleveland.com reported on remarks Ryan Day made regarding NIL’s effect on the Buckeyes including his belief it would take $13 million/year to keep the roster intact:

Day said the Buckeyes have been gathering information by talking to recruits and their families and getting a sense of what other schools might be discussing with NIL deals. He said he believes right now top-shelf quarterbacks require $2 million in NIL money. Major offensive tackles and edge rushers he said are about $1 million.

If you can’t match that, other teams might have a chance to pluck key players from your roster. Day told the assembled potential NIL donors that every player on the team could go in the transfer portal when this season ends, and then field calls from other schools who might be offering NIL deals. Players may feel they have to take that money to help their families.

My only question - is $2M/$1M the deal needed in place for an incoming recruit at one of those positions or what they can expect to pay someone once they’ve begun to produce at an elite level? With the transfer portal wide open, the coaches no longer have total control once they’ve enrolled. They have to keep up with the NIL to prevent defections.

The numbers he throws out sound realistic when compared to the QB vs. team salary breakdown of an NFL roster.

NFL - Avg salary of Top 10 QB - $33.5M/Avg. NFL team total salary $220M - QB salary 15.2% of the team’s
College QB’s using Day’s estimates -$2M for the QB/$13M for the team - Elite QB makes 15.4% of the NIL cash.

Interesting.

Syndication: The Daily Advertiser
A still shot of Arch looks faster than Peyton or Eli ever did in actual game speed.
SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY / USA TODAY NETWORK

A QUICK RECAP OF RECENT EVENTS

When it comes to Saban’s meltdown on Jimbo, it’s both incredibly hypocritical AND makes perfect sense:

  • He lost to Jimbo head-to-head last season
  • He also lost the national title game to former assistant Kirby Smart. Those losses ended a 12-year 25-game winning streak against former assistants.
  • He then finished behind Jimbo in recruiting for the 2022 class
  • He just lost out recently to the Buckeyes for On3’s #1 overall 2024 player Dylan Raiola.
  • I’m also guessing the NIL squad didn’t keep up with UGA and Texas on Arch Manning since the Tide apparently bowed out by already taking a different QB for 2023 as well.
  • Also, keep in mind most coaches stayed intentionally out of the loop on the bagman offers. When you don’t know and you don’t wanna know, it’s very easy to underplay the importance what you’re ignoring.
  • Nick’s ego rises above in a profession populated by large egos.

WHY NICK IS SO ANGRY - CONCLUSION

Nick has been winning his entire career, none more than in his 15 years at Alabama where he has compiled a record of 183-25 and won 6 national titles. Having played in the national championship game in 6 of the last 7 years, this surliness can’t be blamed on a downswing.

Only two things have really changed recently (though they are monumental) - 1) the legalization of NIL and 2) the transfer portal opening wide.

We can eliminate #2 immediately as raising Saban’s ire - he cleaned up this cycle signing multiple elite prospects from the portal while not losing any returning starters. (Now to be fair, while the players who did leave may have just been in a position to compete for playing time in Tuscaloosa, they were still hotly pursued by many who were more than happy to grab some of the scraps from those Tide recruiting classes.)

So basically the piss in the punch for Nick was NIL which involved a part of the recruiting process to which he (and every other coach) had intentionally made himself not privy.

Coupling this intentional ignorance with his ego and his incredible success, the sudden spate of on-field and off-field losses (many to former assistants he had been dominating for over a decade) lit a fuse. Much like Phil Hellmuth after seeing pocket aces flip in an opponent’s hand he was convinced he had read after pushing all his chips in, we had ignition and the Saban A-bomb was dropped.

(For those who don’t believe in a pecking order, it should be noted the SEC’s reaction to Saban’s comments - crickets - was very different than when another coach fired off very similar accusations a few years ago.)

In conclusion, Saban had probably convinced himself that Alabama’s success was based on culture, organization, strength & conditioning, scouting, schemes/playcalling and, finally, their ability to consistently persuade the nation’s top talent to attend Alabama instead of the multitude of other schools vying for their talents.

So of course since he lost several of those battles in a short amount of time, his ego searched for somewhere to place the blame. Everything in the previous paragraph had proven infallible over time with no major changes.

NIL, however. Hmmmm. Well, in his mind, this paying players was new. And he was fine with his players making NIL cash. But likely egged on by an anonymous message board poster named “slicedbread” accusing Jimbo and the school of dropping the cash on his recruiting class around signing day, a class behind Jimbo’s, and the realization he was out of the hunt on the next TWO years top-ranked recruits, he now knew exactly what the hell was going on. Other schools were “buying players”.

All that was left was put a mike in front of the man’s face and let him vent to the world.

The postscript? Knowing they didn’t load up on talent together at LSU - let alone at Bama - on Nick’s charm, Jimbo’s fury and incredulity were completely predictable.

The hatchet was allegedly buried - gently suggested by their bosses at both schools, I’m sure - but for anyone interested in future fireworks:

Texas A&M @ Alabama
October 8, 2022
Time & Network TBD

SEC! SEC! SEC!

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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