Nick Saban saving college football from its current chaos may be impossible

Should Nick Saban dive into the current maelstrom that is college football? It could be that even a GOAT cannot repair all of college football's broken parts.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The calls are increasing for Nick Saban to save college football. Even former Saban detractors are saying that the recently retired, former Alabama Crimson Tide head coach is uniquely qualified for the difficult task.

One reason why the college football world should turn to Nick Saban is his history. Not so much history as a college football coach, but his history of warnings about what college football was becoming. For years Saban used one question to define the potential impact of change. "Is this what we want college football to be" was first asked about the Transfer Portal creating unbridled free agency.

With the Portal's explosion, followed by NIL, free agency became what Saban feared. A chaos in which, unlike the NFL, free agency is not restrained by a salary cap.

In a recent conversation with ESPN's Chris Low, Nick Saban said,

"What we have now is not college football -- not college football as we know it. You hear somebody use the word 'student-athlete.' That doesn't exist."

Nick Saban

Saban made a point that the current trends in college football could harm or destroy other college sports. Ostensibly, the 'haves' in college football and men's college basketball will survive and some even prosper. But schools may have to limit other sports, including eliminating them, because of the cost of operating college football championship programs.

Nick Saban also understands the downside of short-term financial benefits for players.

"I want to see the players have a great quality of life and be able to create value for themselves. But we've gone to nobody talking about education, nobody talking about creating value for their future, to talking only about how much money can I make while I'm in college."

Nick Saban

A financial bubble could turn into a bust for many former college players, who don't make it as professionals and have no career backup to sustain them.

As valid as are Saban's concerns, developing viable solutions will be a most difficult task. Solving college football's many problems will likely be far more difficult than winning championships. Even the greatest college football coach of all time likely cannot remedy irreparable harm.

The college football world needs Nick Saban's leadership, but it will take many other sharp minds to wade through potential solutions and create paths to a sustainable future. Should Nick Saban take on such a problematic challenge or step back and enjoy a well-deserved retirement? It may not be possible to do both.