Alabama Football: Tennessee Vols now No. 1 – in buying players

Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football has a huge advantage. It can ‘not’ be something. Other programs can measure themselves in comparison to the Crimson Tide and should because Alabama is the standard. Alabama Football does not need to measure itself against any other program.

With the Crimson Tide’s long history of being No. 1, there is one contest Alabama should ignore. That contest is what team is No. 1 in buying players. Based on multiple recent reports of an $8M deal from the Vols’ affiliated collective, Tennessee is now No. 1 in buying players.

Whether or not there is something wrong with what Tennessee has done is immaterial. In the no-rules environment of NIL, the Vols have broken no rules and violated no laws. No blame should be aimed at the players and families who take advantage of such largess. They are entitled to make a sound business decision for their benefit. The nation’s economic system is based on doing just that.

About a week ago, Stewart Mandel writing for The Athletic reported the collective that negotiates NIL deal for Vols’ athletes had signed an agreement with a 5-Star athlete that,

"could pay him more than $8 million by the end of his junior year of college…He’ll be paid $350,000 almost immediately, followed by monthly payouts escalating to more than $2 million per year once he begins his college career, in exchange for making public appearances and taking part in social media promotions and other NIL activities."

The athlete was not named, though it has been widely speculated the 5-Star is California, QB, Nico Iamaleava. Iamaleava had recently visited Knoxville and came away gushing about the school, the program, and even the city of Knoxville.

On Tuesday, Iamalaeva made his commitment to the Vols official.

Alabama fans who know the history will enjoy the tweet below.

Some media sources are shying away from calling this exactly what it appears to be. The reporting and evidence accessible to The Athletic indicate exactly what it is. The Vols have bought themselves one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 class. If that is true, the beneficiary is Nico Iamaleava, having signed the equivalent of his first professional contract before leaving high school.

How should Alabama Football and Nick Saban respond?

The short answer is not at all. Building a team around players whose priority is the most, immediate financial return is not a good plan. Many years ago, Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant, who had been willing to buy players at Maryland and Kentucky, decided while at Texas A&M that doing it was a mistake. Bryant learned such players were often what he hated most – quitters.

'23 QB recruiting takes a turn. dark. Next

Nick Saban and Alabama should continue to advise players on taking advantage of NIL deals. The players deserve what they can earn. But the Crimson Tide should not buy recruits, even though it is now legal. Leave that to other programs to do, even if they won’t admit they are doing it.