Clint's Crimson Corner

Saban addresses the lack of a developmental league in the NFL

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

It’s only 10:36 am on a Wednesday morning, and yet, there is already a lot to talk about from this morning’s press conference with Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Lucky — or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it — for myself and the rest of the media, no one kicked up enough controversy with the 5-time winning national championship coach to cause one of his famous tirades. Still, there was a wide variety of topics covered, but one stood as an something to take a look at.

Saban brought up the lack of a developmental league for the NFL, and he cited New York Yankees star OF Aaron Judge as an example of the impact that can cause:

“The NFL and football is the only sport that has no developmental league. Aaron Judge is a pretty good player, but the way I understand it is he spent a couple of years in the Minor League” Saban was quoted saying. “If that guy wasn’t ready to play in football when he was 22 years old, he might not make the team.”

It’s an interesting point to bring up because of the impact that it has on college football. By default, college football is turned to as the only way for a player to develop before heading to the NFL. Yes, there are leagues like the CFL — who have produced success stories such as Miami Dolphins edge rusher Cameron Wake — but it’s clearly not enough.

The lack of a developmental league for the NFL creates an issue with properly evaluating players on the college level. Coaches such as Nick Saban are forced to allow scouts and other NFL personnel access to his players, which can — and has — led to distractions.

“What these players have to realize is when they make a decision to go out for the draft, it’s kind of an all-or-nothing thing because there is no second developmental chance for them” Saban went on to say.

Every year, it seems like several college football players make the decision to leave school early for the NFL Draft, and they end up getting the wrong information — resulting in them going later than they expected or not being drafted at all.

The livelihood for most of these players is on the line, and the lack of a developmental league sometimes closes the door on that player’s chance of making it onto an NFL roster — at that current moment and into the future. With that much at stake, Saban sees the emergence of a D-League for the NFL as being a possible solution.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of having a high profile coach like Saban advocating for a developmental league will do towards actually filling the void with one.


Clint Lamb is an associate editor for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can “follow” him  on Twitter @ClintRLamb.


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