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Nick Saban

Nick Saban denies tampering as a means of Alabama getting Tyler Harrell

Nick Saban coaching the Alabama players during 2022 Spring Football Practice
Photo by Jeff Hanson of Alabama Athletics

A new word is sweeping through college football in the NIL and transfer portal era.

“Tampering” is the term that’s been tossed around social media for weeks. Whether it’s through NIL deals or the portal, coaches, fans, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have concerns about programs going about business honestly.

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The definition of tampering is to interfere with something to cause damage or make unauthorized alterations.

One month ago, Tyler Harrell entered the portal. He was an electric playmaker at Louisville as a wide receiver, and Harrell visited the University of Alabama for its A-Day Game on April 16. He committed to the Crimson Tide on the following Friday via social media, and Cardinals’ head coach Scott Satterfield became concerned. Satterfield suggested tampering was involved in Alabama getting Harrell, but Nick Saban strongly denied it. He was involved in the Regions Tradition Pro-Am at the Greystone Golf and Country Club. On Wednesday, several reporters asked him about tampering and did it happen in Alabama landing Harrell.

“We don’t tamper with anybody,” Saban said. “I don’t know about anybody that tampered with him.”

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Third parties do name, image, and likeness deals. NIL has become the wild west of college football, and many coaches have spoken about it needing to be regular or have oversight. Between it and the portal, Saban can only hope that all involved in the sport are handling things properly.

“I think it’s hard to control third parties, direct or indirect,” Saban said. “When you have a guy leave your program to go someplace else the day after a game, I don’t have any evidence that anything happened — and I’m not making any accusations, but it makes you wonder, I guess. But hopefully, we have enough honesty and integrity out there amongst us professionally in our sport that people are going to abide by the rules.”

Alabama has had 18 scholarship players enter the portal in the offense, including five after a College Football Playoff National Championship loss to Georgia in January. Saban said ‘when things happen, it makes you wonder.’

“I don’t really know that anybody’s really ever tampered with our players,” Saban continued Wednesday. ” So I’m not making any accusations against anybody that’s done anything with our players and I don’t have any knowledge of anybody that’s done anything with any of our players.”

Saban is firm on Alabama going about its process for Harrell by the rules. He is firm on the Crimson Tide getting all its transfers in the offseason by the rules. Alabama is looking to return to the CFP National Championship stage and win a title in the fall.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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