Nick Saban goes off on NIL influence: ‘We never cheated to get a recruit’

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports)
Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide. (Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports) /

Alabama football head coach Nick Saban isn’t a fan of the way NIL opportunities have changed the nature of recruiting in college football.

Now that Name, Image and Likeness earnings are allowed in college football, the recruiting game has changed.

For Nick Saban, it’s not a welcome one.

The Alabama head coach told ESPN that he doesn’t agree with NIL becoming the focal point of recruiting.

Nick Saban doesn’t like recruiting and NIL intertwining

“When we start using name, image and likeness for a kid to come to our school, that’s where I draw the line. Because that’s not why we did this,” he said.

Saban is worried about the money becoming the driving force behind recruits’ decision-making. He insists that wasn’t the case before, even if people believe under-the-table payments have been herding players to particular programs all along.

“We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school,” he said. “And now that’s actually happening. People are making deals with high school players to go to their school.”

Whatever Saban says, the reality is that recruiting has always been shifting. Players used to commit for one reason. Now they commit for another. It’s up to the schools to be flexible and figure out the best way to reach the current generation of young football players.

In the past, that’s meant convincing them that a place like Alabama was their best path to secure future earnings in the NFL or elsewhere. The earnings conversation has just become a bit more present.

For what it’s worth, Saban and his staff have done just fine navigating these new waters. The Crimson Tide held the No. 2 recruiting class on Signing Day, so it’s not like they’re hurting for talent.

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