Finally someone got it right about Nick Saban and NIL

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

All of us who cobble together thoughts for public consumption are vulnerable to not letting facts get in the way of a good story. A case study could be done on that happening this week as scribes, pundits and experts joined fans in misinterpreting and too often mistelling what Nick Saban said on Wednesday night.

There were also a few examples of clarity and on Friday, Ivan Maisel offered some of the best.

For those who have listened to Saban’s thoughts about NIL for months, what he said this week should not have come as a surprise. He has consistently sounded alarms the way NIL is being used to recruit players is a threat to college football’s future.

Speaking in clarification on Thursday, Nick Saban said,

"I don’t think NIL is an issue at all. I think the collectives are."

In another well-written piece from ESPN’s Chris Lowe, Saban accurately summarized the problem as he sees it.

"This is not professional sports. I mean, we have free agency and no salary cap. That’s basically what we have, right? There’s no professional league that has that circumstance because none of them are stupid enough to have it, and that’s what we have."

As Maisel pointed out, other coaches agree with Nick Saban. Lane Kiffin and Dabo Swinney have also sounded alarms about what is happening with NIL and recruiting. More coaches say privately what Saban says publicly. Maisel provided a point that should cause any reasonable person concern.

"Nick Saban spoke the truth in public Wednesday night. The Alabama coach said in public what he has been saying in private for several months.Of course Texas A&M bought its way to the top of the recruiting rankings. Texas crude is selling for $107 per barrel. That’s the game right now. It will be the game until the NCAA or Congress or Pope Francis or anyone with the requisite juice finds a way to replace the guardrails that the judicial system and state legislatures have taken down in college athletics.Top recruits have three questions: How much you gonna pay me? Can you match this offer? And how much you gonna pay me?"

Many Alabama football fans are worried Nick Saban will become so frustrated with the direction of college football that he will retire. Many of them (us) are predicting a 2022 National Championship for the Alabama Crimson Tide. That could become a convenient off-ramp for Nick Saban’s coaching career.

What happens next for Nick Saban, Alabama football and college football, in general, is unclear. What is clear is the vitriol spewed by Jimbo Fisher on Thursday was the real ‘despicable’ action in the current drama. Jimbo made the mess sordid – not Nick Saban.

Nick Saban may choose to adapt, now that buying players has become the norm. Maybe he will do it with some kind of tether to reality that other coaches choose to discard. Bryce Young reportedly has earned large NIL dollars after becoming a Crimson Tide player. Nick Saban has said repeatedly he is fine with that. Last season, arguably the nation’s best college football player, Will Anderson Jr. decided to focus on football rather than NIL. Anderson knowing bigger rewards would come later, should be a lesson for recruits.

Championships are not built by 'me' and 'now'. dark. Next

With time, surely some NIL sanity will prevail. If not, the fairness achieved by college athletes being paid for name, image and likeness will be tainted.