Nick Saban reiterates his stance on NIL reform as Alabama coach Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher backs away from spit


Nick Saban reiterates his stance on NIL reform as Alabama coach Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher backs away from spit

Alabama coach Nick Saban has been one of the loudest voices in the quest for name, image and likeness reform, even though the opportunity for student-athletes to capitalize on their visibility has only existed for 11 months. He has been an advocate of streamlining a process heavily governed by individual state statutes, and he got into a war of words with Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher earlier this month when he said so Texas A&M “bought” its 2022 recruiting class – the best class in the history of 247Sports.

Saban was asked about that little cloud of dust at Tuesday’s SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and further apologized for mentioning Texas A&M by name.

“I wasn’t really saying anyone did anything wrong,” Saban said. “I didn’t say anyone did anything wrong, OK, and I said everything I’m going to say about it. I should never have mentioned individual institutions, and I’ve said that before.”

Fisher followed on the podium on Wednesday and declined to answer questions about the public altercation with Saban. Fisher said that he and Saban spoke briefly at the beginning of the meeting, but spoke sternly about business.

“It’s over”, said fisherman. “We’re done talking about it. We’re moving into the future and trying to fix what needs to be done in college football. We have much more pressing needs than our arguments.”

It’s the second time Saban has apologized since Fisher’s 10-minute tirade, in which he called Saban a narcissist, among other things.

“We never bought anyone” said fisherman earlier this month. “No rules were broken, nothing was done wrong. These families, it’s despicable for a reputable head coach to come out and say that when he doesn’t get his way or things don’t go his way. The narcissist in him doesn’t allow these things to happen. It is ridiculous.”

The verbiage may have seemed a little childish, but it cemented the idea that guard rails must be put in place for NIL to work as intended. In a roundabout way, the dispute between Saban and Fisher sheds even more light on the chaos created by the lack of consistent regulation across the board.

With that in mind, several coaches at Destin, including Saban, Florida’s Billy Napier and Georgia’s Kirby Smart, reiterated that they are all for players to capitalize on their athletic ability.

“We need some transparency in name, image and likeness deals to verify that players are doing what they need to do to have the opportunity to make money from name, image and likeness,” Saban said. “And believe me, I’m all for players making whatever they can, OK. But I also think that we need a uniform, transparent way to do this. Our players did very well last year in name, image and likeness because they had agents, they had substitutes, they had people who actually wanted them to support something for them and they did very, very well. That’s a public record and you can see how well they did it.

The NIL era has also given more voices to those around high school and collegiate athletes. Parents and high school coaches have always been prominent, but now agents, marketing firms, and dealers have more seats at the table.

“Physical students need some protection from unfair representation of names, likenesses and likenesses or deals,” Saban said. “You could have a player – and this has happened to us in the past – who thinks he’s signing one thing and he’s signing something else and going forward giving up his freedom of choice over who represents him. We don’t have any oversight over the players at the moment when it comes to that.”

It’s clear that trainers are upset with how NIL was introduced and aren’t afraid to push for changes. It will be interesting to see how this is approached in the future. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff traveled to Washington, DC earlier this month to urge the federal government to act, where it could potentially end up if power brokers can’t get together on the collegiate athletics issue.

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