Last year college sports as we once knew it changed for good. As of July 30, 2021, student-athletes became eligible to capitalize off of NIL deals, which is earning money off of their name, image and likeness. Since that fateful day there’s been a lot of chatter, backbiting and downright hate going on across the big-time college athletics.
The game done changed, for real.
Two power brokers in the sport, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders are at the forefront of the new era of college athletics, and after some choppy moments a few months ago the two seem to have buried the hatchet.
On Wednesday, they got together on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” with Sage Steele to discuss the challenges and advantages that the NIL rules present. The 2022 college football season is slated to begin on Saturday, in what is known as “Week Zero.”
Saban A Proponent Of NIL: Wants Rules Instituted
Nick Saban, who’s a proponent of the NIL but wants some hard rules and guidelines levied by Congress, spoke candidly about his concerns.
“I think a couple of things are of concern. We allow alumni collectives to get involved in recruiting and other things, that’s always something we’ve guarded against in college football. I think what kind of competitive balance we are able to create if we allow that to happen, which is not going to be great for fans.”
Saban continued …
“The best competitive balance you can have is like in the NFL. They have rules to create competitive balance. Whether it’s salary cap, difficulty of schedule, where you draft, where you pick relative to win-loss record. Those things are important I think in the interest of creating a lot of good matchups on a national basis.”
“We don’t have rules in place to protect the players from people who are trying to get between them and the money.”
Saban, speaking on alumni collectives helping to recruit student-athletes is something he blasted Texas AM Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher for in a rant back in May. Saban said Fisher and the Aggies bought their record recruiting class, which featured a record eight five-star athletes. Fisher bucked back, saying their relationship was over, and he called Saban a narcissist.
Saban also called out Deion Sanders and Jackson State for what he called using the NIL to land the nation’s No. 1 ranked player in Travis Hunter. Sanders, debunked the notion and immediately demanded an apology from someone he looks up to in the coaching profession, which he immediately got.
Coach Prime Speaks On NIL Craze
Sanders has been outspoken about not being of a fan of the NIL. In a May video he talked about the NCAA having a problem. He said, “When you start paying athletes like they’re professionals, you got athletes acting like they’re professionals.”
@NCAA YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! I’m trying to help before it blows up in your face. Money Makes You More Of Who You Really Are. Now think about that for a minute. God bless u all. #CoachPrime pic.twitter.com/ZbncNK2PDt
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) May 11, 2022
During Wednesday’s interview Sanders touched on how Alabama, a Power Five program, is on a totally different playing field than his FCS program at Jackson State.
“First of all we can’t compete,” Coach Prime said. “We don’t have collectives. We don’t have anything like that. We’re trying to rally up boosters, and you talk about collectives? I don’t even know the definition of collective.”
Sanders continued …
“And it’s name, image and likeness. I’m happy that these kids are getting compensated, but when you talk about name, image and likeness — I haven’t seen anybody on anything. We keep talking about these kids making millions of dollars — what are they on? Where is their name, image and likeness? Or is it just collectives paying these kids to participate in this or that college?”
.@DeionSanders weighed in on NIL on SportsCenter 👀
"I want these kids to start back focusing on the NFL not the NIL. … The NFL is what's going to sustain you and maintain you, not the NIL." pic.twitter.com/b3PowBT0rl
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 24, 2022
Valid points from Sanders, who’s speaking facts, and the gist of what he’s saying is the collectives need some guidelines. Why? Because it seems as if they’re doing a “pay for play,” and it’s something that needs to be contained. As for HBCUs, they need help, period, as Coach Prime said he’s never heard of collectives and doesn’t even know what it means. Programs such as Jackson State are a couple of billionaire alumni away from competing with the best programs in the country.