Nick Saban is starting to sound like a hater. Not just any hater, but of the Prime Time ilk. At a May 18 event in Birmingham, Alabama, to promote The World Games coming up in that city in July, the coach with over 200 wins decided to let the world know how he really feels about the new recruiting dynamic in the NIL era, and this time the Jackson State University football program became one of his targets.
Let’s just say he is not happy Saban.
Sitting on a dais next to Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oates while facing a crowd made up of many Crimson Tide boosters, Saban fielded a question about the impact of NIL on today’s college athletics. Toward the end of a seven-minute reply in which he decried the free-for-all state of the current NIL environment — including calling out Texas A&M as buying every player in its No. 1-ranked 2022 recruiting class — Saban sent some shots in coach Deion Sanders’ direction.
“We have a rule right now that says you cannot use name, image, and likeness to entice a player to come to your school,” Saban said. “Hell, read about it in the paper.”
“I mean, Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division 1 player to come to school; it was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
The college football world is still in shock from Deion Sanders‘ football recruitment checkmate. He and the Jackson State Tigers have been flipping the script since Sanders has placed Prime-level attention on expanding the HBCU athletic footprint.
Now, after the success he has generated, highlighted by snatching the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, Travis Hunter, away from Florida State University, Nick Saban feels some type of way.
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
However, in true Deion fashion, a response was not only given but warranted. The Twitter fingers did the appropriate work.
“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.”
Hunter has previously talked about why he chose Jackson State over Florida State.
“I’ve got a once in a lifetime chance to play for one of the greats and also I’ve got the chance to make a change in the history,” Hunter said to 11Alive News in Atlanta. “I mean, me being the first recruit to go to an HBCU is real good for me. It just build over time. I’m just ready to work and go to Jackson, Mississippi.”
Hunter tweeted Thursday in response to Saban’s accusations.
I got A mil?😂But my mom still stay in a 3 bed room house with five kids 🤣
— Travis Hunter (@TravisHunterJr) May 19, 2022
Sanders is instilling the love of Blackness and togetherness underneath his NFL veteran’s experience pitch, and it’s working. Deion Sanders also didn’t create the NIL deal, but he is happy to see his athletes benefit from it. The fact that Saban framed that as a nefarious thing is troubling.
Not only is Sanders making top recruits view Jackson State as a viable option to have a sustainable collegiate football career that can lead them to the pros, but he is holding the NFL accountable too.
In March, Sanders hosted a pro day at Jackson State for players from several HBCU programs such as the JSU Tigers, Mississippi Valley State, and Alcorn State. After the event was complete, Sanders went further and held the NFL teams that didn’t send a scout accountable for their lack of appearance.
Jackson State’s Coach Prime tried to warn yall about Power 5 schools almost 2 years ago. Nick Saban mad, ain't it? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/JN92hvlJhj
— America's Favorite HBCU (@JBrooks02) May 19, 2022
“You 10 that’s missing, if I catch you at Mississippi State or Ole Miss it’s going to be a problem, that’s all I’m going to say. That’s all I’m saying, it’s going to be a problem. Our kids are that good, you should have shown up too,” he said.
Saban, who also cited University of Miami basketball as a pay-for-play program during his answer, attempted to make amends for his comments, walking back his singling out of anyone.
Nick Saban with @SXMCollege: "I should have never singled anybody out, and I apologize for that part of it."
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) May 19, 2022
“I should have never really singled anybody out,” Saban said on ESPNU Radio. “That was a mistake and I really apologize for that part of it. I really didn’t mean to single anybody out. I apologize for that. But it’s the whole system — is this a sustainable system and is this good for college football?”