Ordinarily, the offseason is the worst, because nothing good comes of it. Such news as you get over summer is almost always bad: conference expansion and realignment; the NCAA finding new ways to add goofy rules; players getting arrested, and the like.
But today, my friends, we get some quality
clickbait hot takes coming in strong from the dean of the coaching fraternity himself, Coach Nick Saban. It will be national news for a while, and is apt to sour the usually-collegial relationship coaches try to maintain, but now it’s out there and now we need to talk about it.
Speaking to a group in Mobile, Saban addressed the difficulties of unregulated and half-hearted regulation of NIL, singling out a few of the sport’s most egregious offenders: Deion Sanders and his long-time friend and understudy, Jimbo Fisher:
“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said at a 50-day countdown event for the World Games, which will be held in Birmingham in July. “You read about it, you know who they are. We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.
“We didn’t buy one player. Aight? But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future, because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”
Taking the superficial point first. Of course, Fisher paid off that class. Even as it was being assembled, we already knew the amount of cash going out per-man. And when it was signed, we knew the final tally: about $25 million. We had months and months of coaches pointing out that A&M is paying players. And it was leveled at one, and only one program. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum, nor does it happen in Sankey’s SEC, where the conference handles issues in-house. So just come clean, Aggie, or at least stay quiet. Nothing you say will do anything except make you out a liar.
Now to the second, and more interesting thing. The point here isn’t the cheating, though the sports bros will focus on Nick’s pointed remarks. But Saban doesn’t work that way: he says controversial things to provoke action, to put pressure to bear on the object of his remarks. He has always used the press as a way to convey his message to others — from asking larger questions regarding tempo and other rules, to the rat poison he invites yet scorns dished out to his players.
The obvious message is that the system is absolutely broken. And even the NCAA’s token NIL guidance does nothing except tut-tut at the problem and kick it back to conferences...who have a vested interest, I add, in their elite teams remaining elite, and their other programs improving.
But, the sadder message, is that these rules and this scheme it is not merely an invitation to dishonesty; rather, dishonesty will soon be the only way to compete unless and until the NCAA gets off its ass and fixes the mess that they helped create.
So, no, the message wasn’t to Jimbo Fisher or Deion Sanders or anyone else handing out that paper; it was to the NCAA — until you show leadership on this, then you have left no room in the game for honest men.
That is the point. And it is an exceptionally dispiriting one.
But that won’t stop a lot of people being vurrah angry about it...like Deion Sanders, who allegedly paid $1.5 to entice the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit to break his commitment to Florida State.
You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow. I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB ! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) May 19, 2022
I would expect Jimbo Fisher to chime in later today as well, and likely lash out in anger as he has done previously. And, like Sanders and so many others who have been so instantly defensive at the notion they’re gaming the system, he will also miss Saban’s entire point. It’s not about you: it’s about what we’re doing to the game.
Where did Saban’s sudden vituperation come from, though? My guess is that USC and Texas, both of whom have been fairly open about damn-near paying players, were announced as Jordan Addison’s final two schools.
Interesting, isn’t it, that in a three-team race, the only school Addison trimmed off his list was the one program who has publicly said that they do not and will not pay players? That is decidedly not a guarantee made by Lincoln Riley or Steve Sarkisian.
That’s not the only major news out of Tuscaloosa. Yesterday, the Tide rounded out its recruiting class by picking up St. Bonnie’s Dominick Welch.
We were over the moon with Dom’s commitment.
He is a high-volume perimeter shooter (600 attempts and 38% career 3PT), a four-year player, a competent ballhandler, and an active rebounder and excellent defender. At 6’5”, 200 pounds, he is a big guard that fits the scheme perfectly, as does his leadership: This Alabama squad is going to be so young. Snagging his commitment to go along with Ohio’s Marc Sears suddenly adds leadership in the backcourt.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL!
We had discussed one rule change last week that we were fairly certain was going to breeze through: eliminating a yearly scholarship cap. It only made sense in the portal era, where there is little continuity and programs can be left on the hook with just a few dozen players on scholarship — as has happened with Kansas the last four years. “Scholarship Hell” should have long ago been addressed.
The other is one that sort of took me by surprise. The NCAA formally eliminated the requirement for divisions to play in a conference title game. The Big 12 has moped over this one for years.
Jokingly, I told CB that the sorry-ass P12 would be all over this one. And I honestly laughed this morning when I read the news that they in fact became the first conference to announce that they eliminate divisions and hope to move heaven and earth to get one of their garbage teams in the playoff.
“Our goal is to place our two best teams in our Pac-12 Football Championship Game, which we believe will provide our conference with the best opportunity to optimize CFP invitations and ultimately win national championships,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said. “Today’s decision is an important step towards that goal and immediately increases both fan interest in, and the media value of, our Football Championship Game.”
The Pac-12’s current conference football schedule will remain in place for the 2022 season, but “scheduling scenarios for seasons beyond 2022 will continue to be reviewed,” the league said.
Whew. That was a lot to hit you with for one day, and you have more than enough to chat about today. So, let’s get to it.
Biggest Story Yesterday?
NCAA rules changes
Jordan Addison scratching the Tide
Nick Saban kicking a hornet’s nest
Dominick Welch’s commitment
Cheatin’ ass coaches getting mad at being called cheatin’ ass coaches
I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE!