Alabama Football: On truths of tampering and Playoff expansion

[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Sec Media Days
[Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Sec Media Days /

Many, maybe most Alabama football fans, are unconcerned about tampering with players and what form the someday expansion of the CFB Playoffs will take. There are good reasons for the lack of concern and the best one is that neither tampering nor a larger Playoff field will blunt the Alabama Crimson Tide.

So when Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield recently complained about tampering and implied it occurred with Tyler Harrell , Alabama fans gave it little thought. After all, the Louisville coach did not directly accuse the Crimson Tide program or Nick Saban of engaging in tampering.

Because of Saban’s and the program’s notoriety, the story has not died. At Wednesday’s Regions Traditions Tournament Pro-Am, Nick Saban responded,

"We don’t tamper with anybody. I don’t know of anything or anybody that tampered with him. I don’t really know that anybody has tampered with our players. I just think that sometimes when things happen, it makes you wonder. I’m not making any accusations against anybody that has done anything with our players, and I don’t have any knowledge of anybody that has done anything with anybody else’s players."

Other coaches, three, in particular, Lane Kiffin, Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi and FSU’s Mike Norvell have been vocal about tampering experiences. Narduzzi is likely losing his Biletnikoff winning wide receiver, Jordan Addison to USC, Alabama, Texas or some other school.

Does Alabama Football contact players before they enter the Transfer Portal?

Let’s presume that unlike many programs, Alabama does not. Why, because it doesn’t have to initiate contact. Players want to join a winning team and improve their NFL chances. It is common for them to use intermediaries to learn what schools might be interested.

Tampering by other schools is little or no threat to the Crimson Tide. It probably helps Tide players that need a new team find one.

There are plenty of flaws in the uber-free agency the NCAA has allowed to evolve. NFL free agency is much more restrictive for good reasons.

What about Playoff Expansion?

Similar to tampering was the blocking on the 12-team CFB Playoff format that occurred a few months ago. A good plan was carefully crafted by the SEC’s Greg Sankey, Notre Dame AD, Jack Swarbrick and the Big 12 and Mountain West commissioners. It was last-minute torpedoed by the Pac 12, Big Ten and ACC commissioners.

A few days ago Sankey re-explained his position.

"We can stay at four. This conference will thrive at four… period. That’s not healthy for the rest of college football, but we can stay at four."

Two things are important for other conferences to consider. One is Greg Sankey is not bluffing. Only one other conference, the Big Ten is equal to the SEC in clout with media companies. The other three Power Fives risk making themselves less consequential. The Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby understood that hence his support of the failed expansion plan. Out of disgust with the expansion failure, Bowlsby has decided to retire.

How the 12-team expansion format failed.

Some are asking if Playoff expansion might not even happen in 2026. Most believe the huge rights’ fees will get a majority on board. The failed vote was 8-3 in favor, but inside a current term, it was required to be unanimous. A change for 2026 will not be so encumbered and the Pac 12 might learn none of the other conferences have any interest in a Rose Bowl clause that differentiates it from other bowl games.

The big obstacle was, and will likely again be the auto qualifiers. Greg Sankey is not likely to support handing out unearned tickets, that exclude better SEC teams from the Playoff field. And he shouldn’t.

It takes boldness to coach in the SEC West. dark. Next

Alabama football fans are right to not fret over these issues. If it wasn’t the dead of the offseason, all our attentions would be elsewhere.