The ability for teams to remain competitive in the landscape of name, image and likeness is quickly becoming a concern for several college programs looking to remain in the hunt.
But Alabama isn’t one of those teams.
Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have appeared to have tackled the new aspect head on and at SEC Media Days, Saban shared just how well his players had done in 2021 from utilizing NIL.
“I’m all for the players. I want our players to do well. Out players made over $3 million in name, image and likeness,” Saban said to reporters. “I’m all for the players being able to do as well as they can and use their name, image and likeness to create value for themselves. We have a great brand at Alabama, so players are certainly — their value there is going to be enhanced because of the value that our brand can help them create.”
Even though Saban isn’t shy about touting the figures his players have obtained, there is still a call for widespread reform across college football in regards to NIL. The current structure or lack thereof surrounding NIL has been described as the “wild west” by several coaches across the country. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey discussed the very topic on Monday when he called for widespread legislation.
“We need a clear, enforceable standard to support national championship-caliber competition,” Sankey said in his opening remarks, “and national championships themselves, like the College World Series, the Final Four, the College Football Playoff National Championship, and every other national championship, so there is a connection and a common basis for competition.”
Saban echoed Sankey’s comments during his own statement on NIL where he called for uniformity throughout college athletics.
“But the thing that I have sort of expressed, not concerns about, but there’s got to be some uniformity and protocol of how name, image and likeness is implemented,” Saban said. “I think there’s probably a couple factors that are important in that. How does this impact competitive balance in college athletics? How do we protect the players? Because there’s more and more people that are trying to get between the players and the money.”
Perhaps the largest aspect of college football affected by the current setup of NIL is recruiting. This offseason alone has seen several rumored deals with players along with Saban himself entering hostile waters. Back in May when Saban was speaking at an event in Birmingham he claimed that Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher purchased his entire recruiting class.
After Fisher fired back with his own press conference, Saban has since apologized on several occasions but still shares that his worries remain over recruiting and how the competitive balance of the sport will be impacted. Saban also made it clear that his concerns aren’t directly related to the effect this will have on Alabama.
“The biggest concern is how does this impact and affect recruiting?” Saban said. “On the recruiting trail right now, there’s a lot of people using this as inducements to go to their schools by making promises as to whether they may or may not be able to keep in terms of what players are doing. I think that is what can create a competitive balance issue between the haves and have not’s. We’re one of the haves. Don’t think that what I’m saying is a concern that we have at Alabama because we’re one of the haves.
“Everybody in college football cannot do these things relative to how they raise money in a collective or whatever, how they distribute money to players. Those are the concerns that I have in terms of how do we place guidelines around this so that we can maintain competitive balance.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77