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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Nick Saban: NIL Money, Transfer Portal Influenced Retirement

  • The former Alabama coach revealed to ESPN new details behind his departure.
  • The new era of college football was a key factor—as was his age.
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban revealed new details about his departure from Alabama, including how NIL collective money and the transfer portal played a factor, in a story published Wednesday on ESPN.

Saban said he was upset with how his players handled themselves after the Crimson Tide’s Rose Bowl loss to Michigan: “throwing helmets” and expressing frustration in ways uncharacteristic to Alabama football. Then, back home in player meetings, more problems arose.

“I thought we could have a hell of a team next year,” Saban said, “and then maybe 70 or 80% of the players you talk to, all they want to know is two things: What assurances do I have that I’m going to play because they’re thinking about transferring, and how much are you going to pay me?”

Saban, in the story, wondered aloud about whether the new goal for college football players might be to make as much money in college as possible and said that wasn’t necessarily wrong—“I’m not saying that’s bad”—but that it wasn’t what propelled his teams to success over the years. The way he sees it, the driver was always personal development, academic achievement, and preparing for the NFL, he said.

Saban also made it clear to ESPN that NIL money and the transfer portal weren’t the only reasons he decided to leave. His age, he said, was impacting hiring decisions for assistants and making it harder to keep up the level of success he wanted for his program.

The former coach also recently criticized NIL collectives directly, telling ESPN they have “nothing to do” with NIL. Saban said in that interview that he wants to somehow be a part of the solution to what’s happening in college football, though he doesn’t know what that might be.

Despite leaving Alabama, Saban is staying involved with college football next season, becoming an analyst for ESPN’s College GameDay and NFL draft coverage. He had already stepped in as a guest analyst for the network and frequented Pat McAfee’s radio show.

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