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Nick Saban explains why he never was for ‘pay for play’ culture in college football

Nick Saban speaks at the podium at 2022 SEC Media Days
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

He shared his thoughts on the current climate of college football with name, image, and likeness in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Still, Alabama head coach Nick Saban continued the discussion with Stephen A. Smith.

Saban was on Smith’s “Know Mercy” podcast Wednesday, talking about how he feels about the state of the game.

RELATED: Nick Saban encourages Alabama players to get agents

The seven-time national champion stated he’s always been for the players. He is happy to see athletes create value through NIL opportunities; however, Saban is concerned about the new culture that’s been created. We have seen several student-athletes and recruits make their collegiate decision based on how much NIL funds they can get in a collective.

Saban sees this as a significant distraction.

Nick Saban believes NIL is broken and Stephen A. Smith says Bryce Young is SMALL

*Nick Saban starts his conversation on why he was never for ‘pay for play’ culture at the 2:45 mark

“I always thought you went to college to create value for your future, in terms of doing well academically, being a good person, and trying to develop a career as a player,” he said. “I don’t like the trend toward how much money can I make while I’m in college, and then how much of a distraction is that to your ability to stay focused on what you need to do to create value for your future. College football should not be paid for play. As happy as I am to see players have an opportunity to make some money using their name, image, and likeness, I don’t think it should be used on guys to influence where they go to school. It should not be used in recruiting. It should not be a pay-for-play device we use as coaches to get guys to come to our school or play for our team.”

He knows the college game has changed drastically in the last three years, but there remains some pureness in the game Saban wants to keep. College football is quickly becoming like the National Football League with NIL compensation and the NCAA transfer portal, which acts like NFL free agency. Saban has done his best to adjust to all nuances, but he does not want to see athletes or the sport itself taken advantage of. It will be interesting to see if any regulation comes to NIL at some point.

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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.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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