College football world needs Nick Saban but can’t have him

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Athletic Directors and school Presidents are scrambling. What the college football world needs is Nick Saban in charge. Saban is not available, not even to save college football.

The current mess was recently summarized by former Oklahoma coach, Bob Stoops,

"right now nobody has control of anything… and I’m not sure that’s ever good"

If only the NCAA, school presidents and athletic directors had been listening carefully to Saban’s warnings about the perils of free agency, there could have been rules to limit the conversion of NIL from a good way to compensate players, to unlimited ‘pay for play’ deals made with recruits and transfers.

Three years ago, Nick Saban was the first to warn immediate eligibility through the Transfer Portal was creating free agency for college football. One of the results has been, again as Nick Saban predicted,

"(the new transfer rules were) going to make the rich get richer"

Nick Saban has mastered the new rules

Saban and Alabama football adapted and have gained more value from transfers than any other program.

Now that buying recruits and transfers have become common through a never-intended NIL loophole, Saban is convinced the current state of college football is not sustainable.

Others argue concerns are overblown. The most common retort is that the same money deals have always occurred. The only difference being while most were hidden in the past, now it is being done openly. Josh Pate disagrees,

The other ‘no big deal’ response is the inflated value of deals will have market corrections and will stabilize well below high school players getting $8M deals. While that response stands to be partially true, it ignores the reality that boosters are not making ‘market-based’ investments. In many cases, they are doing the opposite by willingly feeding their passion for a specific program and trying to buy championships.

The current frantic attempt for the NCAA or the federal government to remedy the situation will likely be futile. The NCAA has zero credibility and even if the U.S. Congress stumbled upon good solutions and passed them, some NCAA-like organization would have to enforce new rules.

Bob Stoops and others think a new organization is needed.

"In my opinion, we need a new leadership group. The NCAA and the way it’s been has really failed overall. Who goes by any rules anymore and who gets how they enforce it? It just seems so ambiguous. … I’ve been very disillusioned for a long, long time on the NCAA"

Who would be the perfect person to lead a new organization? Nick Saban, of course, but the Alabama Football world is not about to let that happen.

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The ‘pay for play’ issues are broader than football. Men’s basketball is little different and other sports are impacted as well.